You’re rich and you need your own playground. You want to meet your friends in the countryside, away from the Palace of Versailles. How about if your spouse gives you your own palace and builds you your own village, complete with farm animals? In 1774 in the park at the Chateau de Versailles, the Petit Trianon was given to The Queen of France, Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). Then in 1783 a picture-perfect rustic retreat was created for her and it was called the Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet).
If you go to Chateau de Versailles, of course you will see the Palace which has the famous Hall of Mirrors and the beautiful gardens, but many people overlook the Trianon Estate. This other area in the park has the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Hameau de la Reine. Don’t. They’re all definitely worth visiting.
Upon approaching the Grand Trianon, you will be struck by all the pink marble on the facade. The row of columns provides a shelter and connects the two wings of the Grand Trianon. It has a courtyard on one side and gardens on the other.
Many of the apartments have been designed as if in the 1700s including the Mirror Room where the King would hold council.
While the Chateau de Versailles is the grand palace where Louis XVI held court, Queen Marie Antoinette had her own, smaller palace, the Petit Trianon. It was built by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel during the reign of Louis XV in the mid 1700s on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles and Louis XVI gave it to her in 1774 as a gift. Le Petit Traianon became her “getaway” when the pressures of the court became too stressful. She gained the most privacy here, away from nobility and even servants.
The palace had many apartments, and the Belvedere and Love Monument designed by Richard Mique were placed in the English gardens.
Hameau de la Reine
The Hameau was built near the Petit Trianon on the grounds of Versailles and designed by the Queen’s architect, Richard Mique. It contained cottages with thatched roofs, a pond, orchard, flower gardens, a mill, and a working farm with cows, sheep, and chickens that produced milk and eggs for the queen. Marie wanted a refuge away from the formality of the court of Versailles. She and her friends would dress in peasant clothes and almost role play as if they were shepherdesses and farmers.
The Hamlet had a dozen cottages and buildings which surround a lake and according to history Marie Antoinette’s house even had a pool. It was said the furnishings and design of the interiors were far from “rustic”. Marie was seen as particularly frivolous and rumours and gossip circulated about all the extravagances. The French saw this Hamlet as another example of the royals being out of touch with the French citizens. It gave the Revolutionaries even more reason to dislike her and Louis XVI.
Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet Today
While the Queen is long gone, her house, cottages and other buildings have been restored in the hamlet and it is now open to the public. It is populated with a variety of animals which makes the visit even more appealing when you have children travelling with you.
If you really want to more of Versailles and learn about Marie Antoinette, check out these two posts:
- Tips For Visiting Versailles. Is One Trip Enough?
- The Versailles Spectacle that I attended in 2019 complete with illuminated characters and fireworks.
Website about visiting Versailles, the Petit Trianon and Hamlet: Chateau de Versailles
Doreen PendgracsMarch 13, 2017 at 9:35 am
Thx for the fabulous photos of Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet, Jan. It looks like an amazing placed to visit.
JanMarch 13, 2017 at 8:58 pm
Certainly very interesting. The whole Versailles park is so large.
noelMarch 13, 2017 at 2:23 pm
I love the smaller home, I can see why she loved this place away from all the posturing and appearance requirements/obligations. Its only been 20 years since I last visited, time for a visit again.
JanMarch 13, 2017 at 8:59 pm
I think there’s still areas that I missed and will have to return again…and again!
RebeccaMarch 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm
How beautiful! I love the little kid (goat) – and have always been intrigued by France’s Revolutionary history. You’ve given me more insight, thanks.
JanMarch 13, 2017 at 9:00 pm
Me too! Love any kind of history, but when it’s France I’m especially interested.
PattiMarch 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm
We visited Versailles in January of 2013. It was a freezing cold day but the sky was clear and the sun shone brightly. Well-worth the extra layers of clothing because we waited in no lines whatsoever and could easily move about through the palace. I think we were there for probably 5 or 6 hours and took in everything we could, including walking out to Grand and Petite Trianon, which we were able to tour. I have long held a fascination for Marie Antoinette and I really believe she was set up to fail.
There is a very good PBS documentary, “Marie Antoinette, a film by David Grubin” that is well-worth watching.
JanMarch 14, 2017 at 2:37 pm
Versailles in January would be great with the blue sky (and fewer crowds). One of the benefits of off-season travelling. I’ll have to check out that PBS documentary. Thanks for the info.
Irene S. LevineMarch 14, 2017 at 1:25 pm
How wonderful that palaces like these are so well-preserved. I can’t imagine how expensive they must be to maintain!
JanMarch 14, 2017 at 2:38 pm
Fortunately, publicly funded and a lot of the park is free to visit. A lot of people don’t know this. They think you have to see the Chateau as well.
Patti MorrowMarch 15, 2017 at 2:15 pm
I regret that I was unable to get to Versailles in my previous trips to France. What amazing pictures of the architecture and grounds!
JanMarch 15, 2017 at 4:07 pm
Definitely worth a visit….actually a few visits!
Kristin HenningMarch 16, 2017 at 11:57 am
Enjoying the notion of ‘role playing’ as peasants at the hamlet. I’d love to visit this area of Versailles, so full of stories.
JanMarch 16, 2017 at 2:09 pm
Yes and so many movies showing what it would have been like. Such a fascinating place.
Sue ReddelMarch 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm
I visited Versailles years ago but I know we only saw only a small part of it as it was winter. I simply must return but in the meantime the movie sounds like a great way to see it at home. Thanks Jan!
JanMarch 17, 2017 at 8:48 pm
There are a few movies that I need to watch again, just so I can see the different sites at Versailles!
Donna JankeMarch 18, 2017 at 9:00 am
I have visited the Palace of Versailles, but did not make it to the Trianon Estate. I certainly will seek it out if I get back there. The hamlet looks very pretty, but it seems funny to think of Marie Antoinette playacting as a peasant. I expect her peasant life was still quite a bit more comfortable than that of the real peasants.
JanMarch 18, 2017 at 9:50 am
Much more comfortable for sure! I’ve heard there are other “hamlets” that royalty had throughout France where they also got to “role play”. How decadent!
Kandi R DoleMay 25, 2020 at 12:13 pm
I can’t imagine her “playing “. I can see her wanting a simpler life after what was expected of her at Versaille. She was reported to be a “Tomboy”, liked riding horses and when she was young in Germany he was allowed to play with children other than those born “Royal”. I imagine it was her way of trying to be “normal” but was perceived as “pretending” with her friends. She was gossiped about almost from the start because she was Austrian, because her husband could not or would not consummate their marriage. I read that she was very misunderstood according to her First Lady in Waiting “Madame Campan”. She was reported to have been kind, but with a dry sense of humor, contributed to charities, and jumped at the opportunity to do good. Of course she was probably out of touch, Versaille was populated with over 10,000 people. Can you imagine the response if she would have asked to go see how the real citizens of France lived? In a male dominated world where Mistresses often had more influence and spent quite a lot of money themselves (which no one ever reported or complained about) she would have been laughed at. She probably had very little influence over her husband as he was warned she would try to influence him from a very young age. From what I understand she was a devoted mother, wanted to have a hand in raising her children and often cried when she heard people were starving (According to Madame Campan). It sounds to me like she was an Empath and deeply misunderstood in many ways. Other Royals spent even more than she did including the Kings brother. May she rest in peace.
Cathy SweeneyMarch 20, 2017 at 12:07 am
Oh my, the life and lifestyle of Marie Antoinette. Just amazing. On my previous visits to Paris, I haven’t made it to Versailles. Now I know that when I go there will be even more to see at Petit Trianon and the Hamlet.
JanMarch 20, 2017 at 8:26 pm
There’s so much to see over hundreds of acres. Rent a bike. It was so much fun to see the grounds that way.