My favorite part of the Chateau de Versailles just outside of Paris is not the palace itself. It’s also not the vast French garden with its fountains and high hedges. Instead, it’s an unassuming place just outside the palace grounds called Le Petit Trianon, also known as Marie Antoinette’s estate. The former Queen of France was gifted this place by her husband Louis XVI. and this was were she would go to when she wanted to escape the rigid protocol of the court.
It’s an oasis of peace and calmness faraway from the masses of people that pour into Versailles every single day. Where the Chateau is ostentatious, the Trianon is humble. Where the Gardens of the palace are constructed by strict geometric rules, these gardens give the appearance of having been left to nature. The Trianon is less formal, less stiff, but much more unique and that’s why I love this place so much.
The Petit Trianon is a small building that is more reminiscent of a beautiful country mansion, than a royal palace. Many of the castle along the Loire are more grand than this building. It has a sister building called the Grand Trianon and both are located at the very end of the palace gardens. Leaving the chateau behind you, you head towards the Le Grand Canal where you leave the Palace Grounds (keep your ticket, so you can enter again later) and turn to the right. You’ll immediately leave behind the bustle of the chateau and enter the world of rural France.
The biggest attraction of Marie Antoinette’s estate is not the Trianon itself, though, but the adjacent gardens. I could spend hours there, because there are just so many things to discover. I greatly prefer the grounds of the Petit Trianon to the gardens of the chateau, simply because this one actually showcases nature.
Marie Antoinette had a small village for herself and her children erected called Hameau de la Reine where she reenacted the simple rural life. I don’t have to mention that the farmers of France who would later in part be responsible for the French Revolution that cost Marie Antoinette her head didn’t live as lavishly as she did in her fairytale dream world.
One big attractions are all the animals that are living in Hameau de la Reine.There are goats, cows, chicken, donkeys and pigs and I really think this is how animals should be living: With plenty of space on their meadows.
This guy has understood what life is all about.
If you want to see more of this place, you should also check out Jay’s recent post on Marie Antoinette’s Estate. And in case you’re going to Paris soon and want to know some of my favorite spots in the city, I posted my perfect day in Paris last Tuesday!
What’s your favorite spot in Versailles?