A brazen break-in at France’s Palace of Versailles was thwarted over the weekend. Per a report in Le Figaro, a 31-year-old man climbed the perimeter wall of the castle grounds and entered the historic structure through a broken French window.
According to the Versailles prosecutor’s office, the man arrived by taxi to the castle grounds around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. Police were alerted soon after to the threat by the taxi driver, who described the man as “carrying a sheet and taking himself for a king.”
The spokesperson for the Palace of Versailles said in a statement that neither the furniture nor collections had taken damage during the intrusion. “This is a man who left Paris in the direction of Versailles and who allegedly told the taxi driver that he intended to enter the castle, ” she told the Agence France-Presse. “He was intercepted after breaking a window near an entrance door which gives access to the lower gallery.”
The palace reopened to the public in May as France cautiously eased its Covid-19 lockdown measures. The site, which also includes the Trianon Estate, the gardens of Versailles, and the gallery of Coaches and Park, is one of the country’s most popular tourist locations, attracting around 8 million visitors in 2019. Today, visitors are required to purchase timed entry tickets in advance and adhere to the now standard health precautions.
Built in the late 17th century by the “Sun King” Louis XIV, the 2,300-room complex housed the royal court and family until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1789. In 1837, Louis-Philippe, then the sovereign of France, dissolved Versailles’ status as a royal residence and inaugurated the structure as a museum dedicated to “the glories of France.” The palace collections house over 60,000 paintings and structures spanning the Medieval Ages up to the early 20th century.