A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe, the Palace of Versailles will soon be welcoming the public in a way that Louis XIV would never have dreamed of. With the opening of the 23-bedroom Hôtel du Grand Contrôle in late 2011, commoners will be able to rest their weary heads in a satellite building that once served as the traditional home of the palace treasurers. Under a team led by historic monuments architect-in-chief Frédéric Didier, the building will be renovated at an estimated $7.3 million and operated on lease by the Belgian company IVY International SA. This participation by a private firm is unusual in France and was made possible by an agreement between the French Culture Ministry and the Tourism Department to boost the economic development of historical and cultural landmarks. The main goal of the Versailles project is to save the Hôtel du Grand Contrôle building, which is in "a very dilapidated state," according to Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the Château de Versailles. Built in the 1680s, the 1,700-square-meter hotel will feature bedrooms overlooking the Orangerie greenhouse or Swiss ornamental lake. Twenty other heritage sites are being considered for similar conversions, including the French royal palace Château de Fontainebleau.
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