The painter from Bruxelles Jean Daret made here a gorgeous staircase, in 1654, in trompe l’oeil, for Jean-François d'Aimar d'Albi, baron de Châteaurenard. Whoa! Today, the building houses a welfare office, but we can visit it...
So, what about that staircase? The decoration’s theme is about arts, personified by a muse and her genius: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, music, painting, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry. Whoa, the trompe l’oeil is a real master piece, the statues and the decorations seem in relief!
We want to touch them, to check… Look at this character, emerging from his red curtain: in fact, he was a domestic, wearing d’Aimar’s livery! And here: hanging to a nail planted in a column, we have a cage with a parrot inside!
In a niche, we can see a Hercules wearing a lion’s skin. In two other niches, we have Roman emperor in front of king Solomon. On the ceiling, ″the Virtue’s immortality″, symbolized by a winged Pallas in the sky.
The baron hosted king of France Louis XIV in his house, in 1660: a sun King completely flabbergasted by what he saw here! He really liked the staircase.
Joseph Pitton de Tournefort wrote about this royal visit, in his book Histoire d'Aix (1666): the king arrived with all his courtiers, the queen, the duke d’Anjou, prince de Conti, prince Eugène and his wife, cardinal Mazarin, archbishop of Arles, bishops of Poitiers, of Valence, of Fréjus, several abbots and lords and ladies following him.
The baron’s house was like the Louvre palace for them. The king was hosted here, and the others get an accommodation in other cityhouses. The tradition even says that for this occasion, they opened doors in the neighbouring houses which had bordering walls with Chateaurenard house. So all the courtiers could meet!