Palace of Versailles to be converted into a hotel
French royal château Palace of Versailles is expected to be converted into a luxury hotel in order to raise revenue for its maintenance.
Seven million people visit the state-owned château every year. The increasing number of visitors triggered successive governments to cut funding for the historic palace from €47.4m in 2013 to €40.5m this year.
The palace is inviting private companies to bid to create hotels in three of the 17th century mansions located 100 yards from the main building.
According to reports, some rooms will have a view of the Orangerie, a gallery that sheltered Louis XIV's 3,000 orange trees in winter. The hotel, tentatively named Hotel de l'Orangerie, is expected to provide guests access to the royal gardens for the first time in 300 years.
A palace spokesman said: "There will be no other hotel in the world like this one.
"This is an emblem of French history and a cultural landmark. It will be an authentically royal experience."
The spokesman added that renovating structures and equipping the hotel is likely to cost up to £10m.
Until the French Revolution, one of the mansions was home to Comptroller-General of Finances, and was later used as an officers' mess, but currently it is empty.
The bid winner will be given a 60 year licence to operate the hotel, and a percentage of the profits will go to the palace.
A Belgian company previously planned to renovate and operate the hotel for 30 years, but abandoned the project.