Everything about Versailles and its grounds is absolutely stunning and you can check out our post about it here. While everything else about this grandiose palace was exactly how we imagined it to be (or sometimes even more grand and glamours than our wildest dreams) … this corner of Heaven left us speechless.
Anything that impresses us so much deserves its own post, especially the Queen’s Hamlet, a place so closely linked to a woman which we personally feel history wronged in so many ways.
We were on the Versailles grounds for over 8 hours in a very hot August day, and although wonderfully impressed by everything we saw, the heat and fatigue was starting to get to us. After passing Le Petit Trianon we thought our tour was concluded and we left ourselves to wonder in the surrounding greenery, looking for shade.
After a couple minutes walking, the thick patch of trees breaks into a small glade … inside, a sight we clearly didn’t expect, a picture perfect spot of Paradise.
All the gilded art, the marble statues and the baroque opulence of Versailles fades away into what looks like a fairy-tale rural scene, completed with a lake, a meadow and a soft flowing stream.
The Queen’s retreat from the confining life inside the Versailles walls – an oasis of freedom and her ode to natural beauty.
A perfect village built on the grounds of the World’s most lavish palace – a wonderful expression of theatrical proportions – designed for a Queen that wanted to escape the suffocating world of courtly pressures.
A mill, a barn, a farmhouse, a dairy, a dovecote – props on an outdoor stage – meant to bring serenity, happiness and, why not, a sense of normality in the life of Marie Antoinette.
Walking the grounds of this magical place its easy to forget the end of the woman who owned it. When reality does strike you, you can’t help feeling a deep sense of sadness.
We spent a lot of time wondering around. Although not very big in itself, it does feel larger than life, and there are so many wonderful little details and corners to discover that it can easily become the highlight of one’s trip to Versailles.
When we eventually decide to head out, looking back at the Queen’s Hamlet, it does feel like Marie Antoinette’s story was unfairly written in the journals of history and she was wrongfully villainized.
A young Austrian girl taken from her home into a foreign country to become its queen. Monitored and scrutinised every minute of the day by a rigid and unforgiving court and constantly pressured into becoming a royal baby-making machine, you really feel that she truly deserved a place like this wonderful hamlet, a place where she could run away from it all and find her peace of mind.
In the end she lost it all … and she watched everything she held dear disappear, before losing her own life under the scaffold’s blade.
Her hamlet stands like a true testimony of Marie Antoinette’s true self, her joy of living and her appreciation of beauty in its simpler, more natural, forms and we did leave the place feeling we knew this ill-fated French queen a little bit better, getting acquainted and linking our emotions with a much more humane version of herself than her rivals wanted to make of her and her legacy.
- Many people don’t pay attention to this more remote corner of Versailles and leave the palace grounds either not visiting it at all or spending very little time here. When we visited, the Palace itself and the gardens were packed full with tourists up to the point where there was no place of hiding from the crowds, but the Hamlet meadow was totally empty and basked in a wonderful tranquillity. We really recommend you don’t miss this part of Versailles, even if its just to run away from the crowds and enjoy a bit of quite time.
- The hamlet is set on the grounds called Le Domaine de Marie Antoinette. All-together this part of the Versailles complex is a wonderful green area, dotted with great little sights. Besides the hamlet, here you will find the Temple of Love, Le Rocher and Le Belvedere and of course it all starts with the Little Trianon.
The Hamlet’s page on the official Versailles website: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/estate/estate-trianon/queen-hamlet
Location on Google Maps: