A three-ton block of red marble is to be delivered to the Palace of Versailles – 350 years after it was ordered.
The stone was due to be delivered in 1670 when Sun King Louis XIV was on the throne.
Due to a delay in the building work, it never left the quarry and later became hidden by other stone until it was finally rediscovered five years ago.
Louis XIV was a fan of the red marble from Caunes-Minervois, Occitanie, and the block was to build 12 columns for a new chapel at Versailles.
Khalid Massoud, president of the Association Marbres en Minervois, who researched the origin of the block, said: “Eighty per cent of the marble at the palace comes from Caunes.
The quarries were owned by the Sun King. That’s why it is so popular.
“You can find red marble from Caunes today in every castle and every church.”
It will take four to five years for the block to arrive at Versailles as it will be delivered using the original transport of the 17th century.
The trip would have taken about six months at the time but will take longer now to allow stops in Carcassonne, Toulouse and Bordeaux for events to mark the occasion.
The marble will first be taken to the Canal du Midi by horses and will then travel on a raft to the Atlantic and the English Channel before heading along the Seine to Versailles.
Its final use has yet to be decided.
The association is looking for sponsors to offer activities based on marble during the trip.