In 1670, Louis XIV purchased Trianon, a hamlet on the outskirts of Versailles, and commissioned the architect Louis Le Vau to design a porcelain pavilion (Trianon de porcelaine) to be built there.
The façade was made of white and blue Delft-style "porcelain" (ceramic) tiles from the French manufactures of Rouen, Lisieux, Nevers and Saint-Cloud. Construction began in 1670 and was finished in 1672.
By 1687, the fragile ceramic tiles had deteriorated to such a point that Louis XIV ordered the demolition of the pavilion and its replacement with one made of stronger material. Commission of the work was entrusted to the architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. Hardouin-Mansart's new structure was twice the size of the porcelain pavilion, and the material used was red marble of Languedoc
Begun in June 1687, the new construction (as we see it today) was finished in January 1688 and inaugurated by Louis XIV and his secret wife, the marquise de Maintenon, during the summer of 1688.
The Grand Trianon would often play host to the King and his wife. The first set of Grands appartments lasted from 1688 to 1691. The next was from 1691 till 1701; then 1701 till his death at Versailles in 1715.
From 1703 to 1711, the building was the residence of le Grand Dauphin.
The domain was a favourite of the Duchess of Burgundy, the wife of his grandson Louis de France, the parents of Louis XV.
In the later years of Louis XIV's reign, the Trianon was the residence of the King's sister-in-law Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, Dowager Duchess of Orléans. Her son, Philippe d'Orléans, future son-in-law of Louis XIV and Regent of France, lived there with his mother.
Louis XIV ordered the construction of a larger wing to the Grand Trianon which was begun in 1708 by Mansart; this wing, called Trianon-sous-Bois, housed the Orléans family, including Louis XIV's legitimised daughter Françoise-Marie de Bourbon.
The King's youngest grandson Charles de France and his wife Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans also resided there. The Orléans family, who had apartments at the Palace of Versailles, were later replaced by Françoise-Marie's sister; the Duchess of Bourbon, Madame la Duchesse lived at the Trianon and later built the Palais Bourbon in Paris, the design of the palace being copied on that of the Trianon.
In 1717, Peter the Great of Russia, who was studying the palace and gardens of Versailles, resided at the Grand Trianon; the Grand Palace at Peterhof is copied on Versailles.
Louis XV did not bring any changes to the Grand Trianon. In 1740 and 1743, his father-in-law, Stanislas Leszczynski, former king of Poland stayed there during his visits to Versailles. Later, it was during a stay at Trianon that Louis XV fell ill before being transported to the Palace of Versailles, where he died on 10 May 1774.
No more than his predecessor had, Louis XVI brought no structural modifications to the Grand Trianon. His wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, who preferred the Petit Trianon, gave a few theatrical representations in the galerie des Cotelle, a gallery with paintings by Jean l'Aîné Cotelle representing the bosquets of Versailles and Trianon.
During the French Revolution of 1789, the Grand Trianon was left to neglect. At the time of the First French Empire, Napoleon made it one of his residences, and furnished it in the Empire Style.
Napoleon lived at Trianon with his second wife Marie Louise of Austria.
The next royals to live at Trianon were the King and Queen of the French, Louis Philippe I and his Italian wife Maria Amalia of the Two Sicilies; he was a descendant of the Regent Philippe d'Orléans and she was a niece of Marie Antoinette.
In October 1837 Marie d'Orléans (daughter of Louis Philippe I) married Alexander of Württemberg at Trianon
In 1920, the Grand Trianon hosted the negotiations and signing of the Treaty of Trianon, which left Hungary with less than one-third of its pre-World War I land size. To the Hungarians, the word "Trianon" remains to this day the symbol of one of their worst national disasters.
1963 saw Charles de Gaulle order a renovation of the building.
A popular site for tourists visiting Versailles, it is also one of the French Republic presidential residences used to host foreign officials.