The 17th century, the so-called Age of Louis XIV, was an era of decadence. During Louis’s reign, French culture came to exercise a universal appeal – which is precisely what the great royal absolutist intended when he specified the best of everything for himself and his residences, flooring included.
Also known as the Sun King owing to his identification with Apollo, Louis XIV converted a hunting lodge built by his regal predecessor, Louis XIII, into the spectacular Chateau de Versailles over the course of four major building campaigns. The result provided the king with both an extravagant private residence and an awe-inspiring setting for the conduct of state affairs and the reception of foreign dignitaries.
The constant washing of the marble floors within the palace, as insisted upon by Louis’s courtiers, was rotting the joists beneath. Accordingly, in 1684, an elegant wooden replacement for the marble floors was commissioned. The new floors, of course, had to complement the very grand interiors in which they were to be featured. Various wood floor designs were presented. After much debate, the classic design now known as parquet de Versailles or Versailles panels was chosen.
Parquet de Versailles, originally a symbol of royal absolutist taste, is now synonymous with timeless classicism. Louis XIV ushered in a demand for patterned parquet floors that is as strong today as it was in 1684.
Well-known panel patterns as well include Chantilly and D’Aremberg. Paneled parquet floors are, and always will be, the epitome of grand flooring. The non- paneled, less expensive, herringbone and chevron block parquet patterns also remain ever popular.