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 see a bit more of Versailles and learn more about Marie Antoinette, check out the spectacle that I attended in 2019 complete with illuminated characters and fireworks. Another perspective is in the film, “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola. It will be your glimpse inside and around Versailles.
Website about visiting Versailles, the Petit Trianon and Hamlet: Chateau de Versailles