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Back in 1623, Louis XIII - father of Louis XIV - built a 'hunting lodge, a little gentleman's chateau' of brick, stone, and slate at Versailles. The king liked it so much that he soon had it enlarged by his 'royal engineer and architect', Philibert Le Roy (this early chateau survives in the buildings that flank the Marble Courtyard). Then from 1661 to 1668 the young Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, had his own architect, Louis Le Vau, embellish the residence. Yet this little house of cards', as the memorialist Duc de Saint-Simon called it, remained too small. Extensions were deemed necessary.

Le Vau was once again charged with carrying out the work. From 1668 to 1670 he built the 'envelope', which Saint-Simon severely criticized for contrasting with the old chateau: 'the beautiful and the ugly, the vast and the restricted, were stitched together'. Indeed, Le Vau's 'envelope' entailed wrapping the old chateau in a second building whose uniformly white stone facades served as a fine garden setting. Work on this building, whose central terrace was inspired by Italian baroque villas, was taken up by François d'Orbay on Le Vau's death in 1670. It houses the State Apartments.

In May 6, 1682, Versailles became the official residence of the Court of France, supplanting the palaces at the Louvre and Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

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Back in 1623, Louis XIII - father of Louis XIV - built a 'hunting lodge, a little gentleman's chateau' of brick, stone, and slate at Versailles. The king liked it so much that he soon had it enlarged by his 'royal engineer and architect', Philibert Le Roy (this early chateau survives in the buildings that flank the Marble Courtyard). Then from 1661 to 1668 the young Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, had his own architect, Louis Le Vau, embellish the residence. Yet this little house of cards', as the memorialist Duc de Saint-Simon called it, remained too small. Extensions were deemed necessary.

Le Vau was once again charged with carrying out the work. From 1668 to 1670 he built the 'envelope', which Saint-Simon severely criticized for contrasting with the old chateau: 'the beautiful and the ugly, the vast and the restricted, were stitched together'. Indeed, Le Vau's 'envelope' entailed wrapping the old chateau in a second building whose uniformly white stone facades served as a fine garden setting. Work on this building, whose central terrace was inspired by Italian baroque villas, was taken up by François d'Orbay on Le Vau's death in 1670. It houses the State Apartments.

In May 6, 1682, Versailles became the official residence of the Court of France, supplanting the palaces at the Louvre and Saint-Germain-en-Laye. More

 
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