Etiquette ruled the life in Versailles palace
Every inhabitant of Versailles was aware of his rank. This was necessary because the most normal daily affairs were affected by the rank you held.
From the levée (rising) in the morning until the Coucher (retirement) in the evening, the days and activities of the royals at Versailles were strictly planned. For each activity the roles of the other courtiers were described and precisely defined the place in the hierarchy of each person.
The closest to the king were those who were allowed behind the gate surrounding the king's bed. The highest-ranking nobleman in the room would hand the king his shirt, the next one his coat and so on. This rather intimate ceremony in the king's bedroom, the Petit Lever, was followed by the Grande Lever. The king would leave his bedroom into the state apartments, where a crowd was waiting to get a glimpse of him.
Both the King and Queen had to endure these ceremonies every morning and evening. Whenever they could they would retreat to the small apartments or to other palaces or houses. Here they could be among family and favourites, as a lot of courtiers had no access to these places.
Not everyone was allowed to sit in the presence of a member of the royal family, and if you had that right. you had to know the kind of chair you were allowed to sit on. If someone of higher rank entered the room, you had to stand up. Maybe you could change to a simpler seat or you simply had to stay on your feet, depending on the new person's rank.
In the presence of the king and queen, no one was allowed to sit on a fauteuil (armchair), unless you were a visiting monarch.
The direct family of the king, his siblings and children, could sit on a chair with a back but no arms.
Duchesses could sit on a tabouret, a padded stool. All other people were expected to stand in the presence of the monarch.
All other courtiers that found themselves in the presence of the King had to keep standing up.
What is the use of so many armchairs in one room, you wonder? The rules changed whenever someone entered or left the room. If the King left the room, suddenly the Cardinal was allowed to sit on a simple chair. If the Queen left the room too, the Dauphin and his brothers and sisters had the right to a fauteuil, and the armless chairs went to the grandchildren, princesses, duchesses and cardinals.
Dukes could only sit (on a tabouret) in the presence of the king's grandchildren. And of course if there were no members of the royal family in the room, everyone could finally sit down. Ladies would have special servants who carried their seats around, just for an occasion like this.
King Louis also introduced many dress codes in Versailles. He was the first to wear red high heels (both men and women wore high heels) and he declared that only his favourites were allowed the privilege of having red heels on their shoes. This was a perfect way to show off your close relations with the king!
When you wanted to visit the 'Grand Couvert' (watching the royals eating diner), the men had to wear a sword. At the entrance of Versailles you could rent them if you did not have one! For each circumstance you had to dress properly.
Men were required to wear a an extravagant coat, made from velvet, satin or silk called a habit habillé. The women had to wear a grand habit de cour, which was an embroidered gown leaving the shoulders bare.
The pressure to keep up with fashion brought the nobles in debts, and that is exactly were the king wanted them. They could not threaten his authority when they were bankrupt from spending all their money on the tailor, wigmaker, barber, jeweller, perfumer, and shoemaker.
You could not just start a conversation with a higher-ranked person, they had to address you first. This is the problem that Madame du Berry faces when Marie Antoinette comes to court. She cannot talk to her before Marie Antoinette first said something to her. In the movie Marie Antoinette the predicament is shown extensively. Madame du Barry and the King, are ecstatic when the Dauphine finally makes a small remark to her.
During the evening entertainment gatherings in the Grand Apartment this rule does not apply. However, the person of higher rank has the right to totally ignore the person talking to him or her.
There were numerous other rules to be aware of. Nevertheless, to occupy an apartment or room in the Palace was very popular.