Sunday, October 19, 2008
At Home with Marie Antoinette
It was a beautiful fall day today, warm in the sun, cool in the shade, and the leaves just beginning to turn, the perfect day for a family outing to Versailles. The kids and I saw the chateau last fall so we walked past all the crowds and through the gardens to Marie Antoinette's domaine: twenty five minutes and a world away from the stiffness and awesome formality of the Hall of Mirrors and the Royal Apartments. She made the Petit Trianon, the little chateau built for a favorite of her grandfather-in-law, King Louis XV, all her own, redid the grounds with formal French and bucolic English gardens and decorated them with the requisite follies, including a temple of love. There is a music pavilion decorated with cherubs that overlooks a pond and a fake grotto, and her very own 200 seat theater, gussied up in blue and gold.
Marie Antoinette probably never said "let them eat cake" but she did have the poor public relations sense to amuse herself by building her own little village where she and her favorite courtiers could play peasants. It all sounds perfectly ridiculous until you see the place for yourself. Who wouldn't want to play being shepherds and dairy maids in such a charming little village, where surely the servants still did all the real work? Guess it was fun while it lasted.