A hotel like no other at the Palace of Versailles
It was a gilded symbol of monarchical opulence in pre-revolutionary France, but the Palace of Versailles has fallen upon hard times, now forcing it to open a hotel to raise revenue.
More than seven million people visit the state-owned palace and its celebrated Hall of Mirrors each year. But while visitor numbers have more than doubled in a decade, successive governments have slashed funding.
To make up the shortfall, the palace is inviting bids from private companies to create and run the hotel in three 17th-century mansions around 100 yards from the main building.
"There will be no other hotel in the world like this one," said a palace spokesman.
"This is an emblem of French history and a cultural landmark. It will be an authentically royal experience."
State funding for the palace has been cut from €47.4m in 2013 to €40.5m this year, and some of the royal apartments are overdue for renovation.
Tenders for a 60-year hotel concession on the Grand Controle, Petit Controle and Pavillon buildings will close on September 14.
When the Hotel de l'Orangerie, as it has tentatively been named, is completed, it will let overnight guests eat cake, drink champagne and stroll in the royal gardens for the first time in 300 years.