Exclusive: Inside the Versailles palace which will be home to Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad
BONJOUR and bienvenue! This is the Versailles palace where the official Irish assault on Euro 2016 will be planned and launched from.
This week Independent.ie stayed at the squad’s hotel and visited the training grounds nearby where preparations are well underway for the arrival of Martin O'Neill's charges.
The FAI has booked approximately 50 rooms at the exclusive four-star hotel, which has recently played host to Hollywood stars like Natalie Portman and Pierce Brosnan, for the Euro 2016 competition.
Rooms at France’s only Waldorf Astoria hotel can cost up to €5,000 a night but Irish players, managers and officials won't be at that level of luxury, staying in bedrooms that come with a €269 per night price tag.
They will be based in the Trianon Pavillion which is adjacent to the historic Trianon Palace and is all part of the same complex. The Pavillion has 99 rooms and the Irish group have booked around 50 of these.
However, it is understood that a 'buffer zone' will also exist for their privacy and security.
Staff at the accommodation have been briefed ahead of the tournament and preparations are well underway for the team's arrival on June 8.
Security checks are being carried out at the palace and a big-screen television is due to be installed in the courtyard so that players can watch other games.
We can also reveal that a number of modifications are being made to the bar and first amongst these is the installation of a Guinness tap.
Currently the bar does not sell the black stuff but the hotel has taken the initiative and decided to introduce one.
Not that the players are likely to get near it while Ireland remain involved in the much-anticipated tournament, of course.
The town of Versailles is known for its history, culture, high-street shops but not its nightlife so support staff will be forced to make do with entertainment at the hotel bar.
But it will not come cheap. A standard Heineken draft beer (330ml) costs an eye-watering €10. If guests decide to drink in their rooms then they can get a 250ml can of Heineken for €8.
Many of the players will not drink for the tournament but they will not feel significant savings in their pockets.
A can of Coca-Cola from the minibar costs €7 while a Mars bar comes with a €5 price tag.
In the hotel bar a bottle of sparkling water (Badoit) comes with an €8 price tag.
Food at the Trianon does not come cheap either. Although it is expected that the Irish team will have their own chef and kitchen staff they will also be able to dine out in the on-site Gordon Ramsay restaurant.
The Michelin-starred eatery charges €90 for Roasted French turbot and €80 for a roasted rack of lamb.
Sources say the FAI chose the location because it was removed from where the vast majority of fans are expected to stay.
In Euro 2012 the association came in for some criticism after a decision was made to base the squad in the party town of Sopot.
The beachside resort, with its many clubs and bars, was a natural magnet for the travelling Irish fans.
But locals in Versailles say Irish supporters are unlikely to flock here in the same numbers.
The Yvelines département town is around 20km from the centre of Paris.
The Irish team will be based at the Trianon Palace for as long as they are involved in the tournament. Their first game is in the Stade de France in the northern Parisian suburb of St Denis on June 13.
They will then jet out to Bordeaux one day before they face Belgium on June 18 and fly back on the night after the game.
They will do the same for their clash with Italy in Lille on June 22 and will either return to the Trianon Palace should they qualify for the last 16 or return to Ireland if they fail to do so.
The hotel is adjacent to the Palace of Versailles and has played a key role in the nation's history.
It opened in 1910 and during the first World War it was transformed into an auxilliary hospital
And the Treaty of Versailles, which led to the formation of the League of Nations, was dictated in a room at the hotel before being signed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles several days later.
Our own Boys in Green will be hoping to make their own history by being the first Irish side to get out of the group stages at a European Championship.
The hotel has a luxury spa and swimming pool where the players can relax after training sessions. It also has two modern gyms.
When they aren't training the 23-man-squad can avail of the hotel's tennis courts, visit the local Versailles Palace or shop at many of the designer stores.