Ever thought it would be fun to live at Versailles? You may soon have the chance to at least stay on the grounds of Louis XIV’s extravagant stage set. The Hotel de Grand Contrôle was built for the Sun King’s finance minister in the 1680s but it has sat empty for over two hundred years since the Royal family was taken to Paris by a Revolutionary mob before their eventual executions. A Belgian hotel company is going to dedicate the $7 million necessary to convert the crumbling mansion into a luxury 23 room hotel. It’s a win-win proposition. Without outside investment, the building will fall only further into ruin and the hotel company, Ivy International, will also pay a portion of the profits in lieu of rent. The building is only 100 yards from the main building and has magnificent views of the extensive gardens and the Orangérie where Louis XIV kept hundreds of citrus trees safe over the winter.
Today’s saying, bâtir des châteaux en Espagne, (batear day shatoe en espanyuh) literally means “to build castles in Spain.” Substitute “in the air” for “in Spain” and the meaning is exactly the same as the English phrase. No one seems to know the etymology of the word. It’s an old phrase and may date as far back as the Moorish invasions of the 12th century. This chateau is definitely of the brick and mortar variety, and I, for one, would love to check in for a night or two.