Learn about the fascinating history of horses at Versailles
The Great and Small Stables were constructed in the 17th century by Louis XIV’s famous architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The Stables were executed within record time, in just three years, from 1679 to 1683. Their location was not a mere accident. Facing the Palace and in the direction of the King’s bedroom, demonstrates well the great importance of the horses to the Monarchy.
View of the stables (the 2 half arc) from the King’s bedroom
At this time, horses were the only way of transportation. But not only. They were used by the Royal family, courtiers, visitors and they were essential part of festivities such as hunting. From 400 horses at the birth of Versailles, there were more than 2200 horses before the French Revolution in 1789.
The Stables accommodated the King’s warhorses and hunting mounts, but they were also home to more than 1500 men working there, from coachmen, pages and squires to blacksmiths and musicians!
The stables today
Two hundred years later and after many years of being unoccupied, the great Stables finally returned to their original purpose: since 2003, they are home to the National Equestrian Academy of Versailles, under the management of Bartabas, the famous artistic director of equestrian theatre. The Stables were renovated by Patrick Bouchain, acclaimed French architect, in a contemporary style while preserving Mansart’s original features.
Bartabas’ s one of a kind theatrical and training company offers two spectacles per week, combining fine horsemanship with different artistic disciplines. Their number of spectators, more than 30.000 each year, speaks for itself. For horses’ lovers, it’s an experience that is unmissable!
What will your tour include?
During your private visit, you will hear about the history of the Royal Stables but not only that! The visit cannot be completed without seeing the horses themselves, including the famous Lusitano breed, favorite of Louis XIV. While exploring, immerse yourself in the ambiance of the great dressage ring, admiring the wooden horse arena, made in contemporary Italian style. If you are lucky enough, you might even catch a glimpse of the horsemen during their training session! During this visit we semi-privatize the rooms you visit. By this way you can fully take in the atmosphere at its best.