Whether you’ve learned about Marie-Antoinette in history books, novels or movies, you don’t want to miss a trip out to Marie-Antoinette’s Hamlet in Versailles. It deserves its own day on your itinerary. After numerous trips to the main palace of Versailles with friends and family, I finally scheduled an entire day to explore nothing but the grounds of Le Petit Trianon and the Hamlet. Hopefully you can manage to do the same sometime.
Before you head out, you ought to immerse yourself in Marie’s world through one of these most interesting books:
You’ll find plenty of information about the grounds of Le Petit Trianon and the Queen’s Hamlet once you get to Versailles (excellent resources available on the “Marie-Antoinette’s Estate” tab of the Chateau de Versailles website) but it’s fun to know a little scoop ahead of time.
Marie received Le Petit Trianon as a gift from her husband in 1774, when she was only 18 years old, had just been crowned Queen of France, and apparently had yet to consummate the marriage. It was a sweet gift, considering it had been built for her father-in-law’s mistress Madame du Pompadour, and then passed along at her death to his next mistress, Madame du Barry.
And what does an 18 year-old do with a palace all her own? She calls in the royal architects to polish it up a bit. She started with Le Petit Trianon, which was lovely and private, but apparently lacking.
Architect Richard Mique designed Trianon gardens that included paths, hills, streams, a neo-classical Tea Room and Temple of Love, along with a faux farming village called Le Petit Hameau.
And yet, despite this entire beautiful day in the Queen’s Hamlet, I still managed to miss a few things, including the Queen’s Theater and Jussieu’s Orangerie. So I guess I’ve got to go back. Some things aren’t meant to be just once in a lifetime.
Suggested reading: My previous post about Marie-Anoinette’s portraitist, Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun. https://americangirlsartclubinparis.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/elisabeth-vigee-le-brun-a-novel/