Monday, June 10, 2013

The Queen's Hamlet

I love irony. But it’s rare to find poignant irony outside of books. I think because it’s easy to miss in real life—we tend to lack a certain detachment that you need in order to see irony.

However, sometimes it smacks you in the face. Especially when it’s in someone else’s life. Even more so when it’s in Marie Antoinette’s life.

When we visited Versailles, we took a hike to The Queen’s Hamlet. It’s in the far corner of the estate, but worth the walk. MA had a peasant village built to use both as an escape from the palace and as a party playground for her and her coterie of hangers-on.

She had a romantic view of peasant life. And so that’s what she got. The sheep and goats were perfumed. Marie Antoinette dressed as a milkmaid. Though an actual milkmaid did the real milking. I can’t help but wonder how history might have been different had she visited a real village and milked a real goat.

Here are some photos of the “hameau.”

Here's the famous Mill. You can't go inside, but that small water wheel couldn't generate much grinding power.

I grew up with relatives who had dairy farms. None of them had marble mosaic floors or fountains in the walls. 

The Hamlet was gorgeous. Totally pristine. So not a real working village.

This was the entrance to the "farm" part of the village. Apparently, there was a real farm a ways outside of the Hamlet that did provide food for the residents.

Here's where the perfumed sheep and goats roamed. Can't you just see MA and her ladies-in-waiting dressed as peasants, giving the sheep and goats hugs and kisses?

I wonder if they're hiring re-enactors. I'd love to get paid to be MA pretending to be a peasant.

N.B. In all fairness to MA, she did wise up and try to help the poor. But by then, it was too late.


  1. Very interesting. Yeah, she was a little clueless. LOL

  2. I'm loving your history lessons + pictures! I visited Versailles with my family during our Euro-vacation back when I was in college, but we didn't get out to the Queen's Hamlet. It's so beautiful & quaint - and like you said, so not a REAL working village.

  3. To milk or not to milk, that is the question. . .

  4. That is a dream cottage! Not very realistic, but lovely nevertheless.

  5. Wow, you have that "writer's smile" down, for when you have to pose with your fans. That takes some practice.