Marie-Antoinette’s Hamlet in Versailles

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:

queen of fashion  marie antoinette fraserabundance marie antoinettezweig's marie anoinettemadame tussaud

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.

Le Petit Trianon, Versailles

Le Petit Trianon, Versailles

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.

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Interior of Le Belvédère

Interior of Le Belvédère, used as a tearoom and music salon by Marie Antoinette on the grounds of Le Petit Trianon

A view of the octagonal Belvédère from across the pond

A view of the octagonal Belvédère from across the pond on the grounds of Le Petit Trianon

Le Belvédère

Le Belvédère

Le Rocher is a man-made rock formation created for Marie Antoinette's rustic gardens of the Petit Trianon

Le Rocher is a man-made rock formation created for Marie Antoinette’s rustic gardens of the Petit Trianon

A charming little path through Le Rocher

A charming little path through Le Rocher

A rustic bridge alongside some grapevines near Le Rocher

A rustic bridge alongside some grapevines near Le Rocher

The Temple of Love in the gardens of Le Petit Trianon

The Temple of Love in the gardens of Le Petit Trianon

When I caught my first glimpse of the The Malborough Tower from the garden path I gasped.It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.

I caught my first glimpse of the the Malborough Tower as I turned a corner on the garden path. I actually gasped out loud. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.

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The Queen’s House and the Billiard House

The view of the Queen's Hamlet from across the pond.

The view of the Queen’s House and the Billiard House from across the pond.

The spiral staircase up to the billiard and card rooms is being renovated in 2014

Much of the Queen’s House, including this crumbling spiral staircase, is being renovated in 2014

The Mill House, a charming little house built on a creek in the Queen's Hamlet

The Mill House, a charming little house built on a creek in the Queen’s Hamlet

The Mill

The Mill, which was supposedly merely decorative

Le Colombier, the pigeon house, with working gardens

Le Colombier, or the pigeon house stood nearby

Le Colombier

Le Colombier

Le Boudoir in the background. Marie's extra private room.

Le Boudoir in the background. Marie’s extra private little house within the hamlet.

 

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The farm within the hamlet

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The French Pavillion

The French Pavillion

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/

 

One thought on “Marie-Antoinette’s Hamlet in Versailles

  1. Face à la tristesse désespérante du parc, il y a heureusement ces petites folies, parfois bien cachées, où l’on peut bien comprendre qu’une ou des personnes de la cour aimant la vie devaient savourer le plaisir de s’y réfugier pour oublier le protocole froid et pesant, la nature architecturée au carré jusqu’au moindre brin d’herbe et la mélancolie qu’engendre tous cette vie codée de A à Z. Mais, heureusement, comme dans tout système tramé, il y a un passage pour s’évader…. comme les couloirs secrets du château qui permettaient de recevoir sans être vu

    Like

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