Surprising Stories: Marie-Antoinette at the Hameau de la Reine
One of the most unexpected visits when touring the gardens of Versailles is the discovery of the Domaine de la Reine where queen Marie-Antoinette commissioned a fake village, called le hameau or the hamlet. Built to resemble vernacular architecture with half-timbered houses, thatched roofs, and stucco walls, the queen entertained friends and family, sometimes impersonating a milkmaid, serving cheeses, milk and creams from her farm. Today’s visitors marvel at the incongruous setting: how did the queen fail to understand that her countrified farm was a parody of most of her subjects’ villages? This Surprising Story reveals a different interpretation of the queen’s hamlet, suggesting that she built a model village in order to demonstrate her trendsetting good taste and the prosperity of the nation.