The sun god of Versailles gets a new golden skin for Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES

The Château de Versailles will host the equestrian competitions, despite the fact that the project to build the 5.3km track is still underway, just four months before Paris 2024. Last Friday, the statue of the Fountain of Apollo was lowered into the water for the first time.

It's hard to imagine a more elegant and prestigious venue for the Olympic Equestrian Games than the Palace of Versailles. A cross-country course is being built there to host the equestrian competitions and the pentathlon. With four months to go before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, construction is 70% complete. 

Work is continuing at a rapid pace to complete the project. The project includes the construction of a 5.3-kilometre cross-country course and the erection of temporary spectator stands, but the centrepiece is the reconstruction of the spectacular Apollo Fountain.

And last Friday, at a media event, the gleaming restored statue of the Sun God, symbol of the Sun King Louis XIV, was lowered back into the water to the accompaniment of baroque music. 

The 1671 statue by Jean-Baptiste Tuby, depicting Apollo in a chariot drawn by four horses, flanked by his descendant Phaeton and dolphins, is now the centrepiece of the works, but will also be used during competitions.

The statue of Apollo in his chariot now shines in gold in Versailles. GETTY IMAGES
The statue of Apollo in his chariot now shines in gold in Versailles. GETTY IMAGES

Horses were an integral part of everyday life at Versailles: 1,500 horses were kept in the stables outside the palace. An exhibition will be held from 2 July. The excavation teams are currently preparing the 5.3 km cross-country course through the park, but the dressage and jumping courses are almost finished. 

Grandstands with a capacity of 6,300 people have been erected. Around "70%" of the work has been completed, said Lorick Joseph of the Olympic Organising Committee at the inauguration, as reported by AFP. 

The 13 sculptures decorated with 35,000 gold leaves that make up the statue of Apollo, undoubtedly the symbol of the palace, have been re-soaked. This was the first task undertaken by the workers in order to turn the grey tones into gold and restore the splendour of the enclosure.

The venue could accommodate more than 250 horses, 200 riders and the modern pentathlon athletes - fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting and cross-country running - comprising 72 men and 72 women. 

Of course, there will also be more than enough to go around, as the main arena, where the show jumping and dressage events will be held , will hold 16,000 spectators, and the gardens could hold up to 40,000. All this will contribute to a very large and special setting.

A 700-metre-long shaded arena and a field for 200 horseboxes have already been completed, which, according to Jean Morel, the site's sports director, will be "under air-conditioned tents". The Olympic equestrian competitions will be held from 27 July to 6 August. The Paralympic dressage competitions will be held from 3 to 7 September.

Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and received around eight million visitors last year. After the Games, all the temporary infrastructure will have to be dismantled and the site restored to its historic state.