Accor Bids to Operate First Hotel on Grounds of Versailles

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Orangerie Garden at Versailles
The Orangerie garden at Versailles, with the proposed hotel in the upper left overlooking the garden. Source: Etablissement public du Chateau de Versailles via Bloomberg

Versailles palace, the seat of power for France’s King Louis XVI and his consort Marie-Antoinette, may soon welcome the first overnight paying guests on its grounds.

AccorHotels is bidding for a contract to restore and create a hotel in three buildings neighboring the palace’s south wing and overlooking the Orangerie garden, said a spokesman who asked not to be named, in line with company policy.

EPV, the government agency that operates the palace, is offering bidders a 40- to 60-year license to use the buildings in exchange for restoration work estimated to cost 4 million euros ($4.4 million) to 7 millions euros, according to the tender description. The winner will also pay for work to create a hotel as well as a fee to EPV based on its revenue and comprising a guaranteed minimum amount paid in advance.

The deadline for bids is Sept. 14, and EPV declined to say if it’s received other proposals. This is the agency’s second attempt to attract investors for the project. A Belgian company, Ivy International, gave up on a contract it won in 2011 to house a 23-room venue in the largest building, which was built in 1680 for the duke of Beauvilliers and used as the king’s finance headquarters before the revolution ended the monarchy in 1789.

Historical Monuments

EPV now has added two buildings, l’Hotel du Petit Controle and the Pavillon des Premieres Cent Marches (the Pavilion of the First 100 Steps), to attract new bidders. The main building, l’Hotel du Grand Controle, is close to being in ruins, according to EPV. The three buildings have a total of 2,800 square meters (30,139 square feet). Renovations will have to comply with rules concerning historical monuments.

The hotel closest to the palace is Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.’s Trianon Palace Versailles, by the palace’s north wing. Its walls border the lane leading to the Trianon, the mini-palace and gardens that Marie-Antoinette had built for her private use. Revolutionaries forced Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette to leave the palace for Paris in October 1789, ending its use as the royal residence.

Accor fell 1.5 percent to 44.87 euros at 2:20 p.m. in Paris.

While visitors to the planned hotel will access the venue by the street, some rooms will have a view of the Orangerie. The Versailles palace, about 21 kilometers (13 miles) southwest of Paris, attracts about 7.5 million visitors a year, making it France’s third most visited cultural site after Euro Disney SCA’s Disneyland Paris and the Louvre museum.

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