ZUT ALORS

Versailles, which survived the French revolution, is closing for the latest protests

J. Eckel’s portrayal of the last royal moments at Versailles.
J. Eckel’s portrayal of the last royal moments at Versailles.
Image: Bradford Museums and Galleries
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The palace of Versailles is closing tomorrow (Dec. 22) as yet another weekend of gilets jaunes protests commence.

This is the same palace Louis XVI, the last king of France, lived in until the end of the monarchy. It was on the grounds of Versailles that the famous tennis-court oath in June 1789, where the people (the Third Estate) took the vow that led to the creation of a constitution and the National Assembly, which lasts to this day.

In the same year, the original Women’s March, also known as the October March, started in Paris and ended at the palace. At 6am on Oct. 6, 1789, the mob forced open the gates and entered Marie-Antoinette’s apartment. As the royal family sought refuge, Louis XVI appeared and promised to give the all bread. The mob demanded the royal family return to Paris. At 1:25pm that day, they departed—the last time a monarch would ever live at the palace, with the king turning to his minister of war with the command to “try and save my poor Versailles!

The palace survived the subsequent turmoil and first opened for tours in 1793. It is being shut this weekend for what is being called “Act VI” of the yellow-vest protests that have gripped mainly the capital. (Each weekend has been labeled by protesters, who formed amorphously on Facebook and other social media, as an act.) A Facebook event called “Acte 6 : Versailles !!!” has 1,300 RSVPs, Vanity Fair France reported (link in French).

The protests are expected to quiet as president Emmanuel Macron—often accused of acting like a king—bowed to many of this very modern mob’s demands.