Marie-Antoinette’s domain has always been my favorite part of Versailles royal domain. To be honest, I always avoid like the plague the pompous and so official castle and gardens to enjoy the charming Trianon domain instead.
In 1758 Louis XV decided to build a new castle in the middle of his Versailles gardens, aiming to provide the King and his lover – the infamous Comtesse du Barry – with the privacy which was lacking at the palace.
He commissioned the royal architect Gabriel to build a new royal residence large enough to house the King and some of his entourage. With the Petit Trianon, Gabriel produced a perfect example of the neo-classical style that was spreading across Europe at that time.
Completed in 1768, the Trianon estate was known as the Petit Trianon to distinguish it from the then existing Marble Trianon, which became known as the Grand Trianon.
Louis XVI gave the Petit Trianon and its estate as a gift to his young bride Marie-Antoinette, who rapidly made it her own and set about redecorating the exteriors. Louis XV’s botanical gardens were soon replaced with English gardens.
Marie-Antoinette regularly sought refuge at the Petit Trianon. Designed for more intimate moments, this royal estate contains architectural gems and magnificent gardens whose diversity and ornamentation give it a unique charm.
During the French Revolution the Petit Trianon became a hotel.
Napoleon restored the palace and gardens to their former glory, first for his sister Pauline and later for the Empress Marie-Louise, his second wife.
In 1867 the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, converted the Petit Trianon into a museum dedicated to the memory of Marie-Antoinette.
The Queen’s Theater, inaugurated in 1780, is the only building to have survived fully intact and unchanged since the 18th century. Marie-Antoinette watched private performances in this theater, but also took to the stage herself.
The French Pavilion was built in 1750 by King Louis XV, a passionate fan of gardening and botany, and was meant to offer an easy access to the flowerbeds. The interior layout is simple: a central salon, an antechamber, a boudoir, a lavatory connected to a small room used to prepare coffee, and that’s it.
After the death of Louis XV, Queen Marie-Antoinette used the French Pavilion, where she hosted concerts and balls.
The Grand Trianon is a unique architectural composition featuring a central colonnaded gallery opening onto the central courtyard on one side and the gardens on the other.
The construction began in 1687, directed by Mansart under the watchful eye of King Louis XIV. The King used this new palace as a private residence where he could spend time with his lover Madame de Maintenon. It was originally known as the “Marble Trianon” because of the pink marble panels which adorned the palace’s elegant façades.
Marie-Antoinette’s apartments in the Petit Trianon look out over the English gardens and the Love Monument.
The Queen’s Hamlet, constructed between 1783 and 1786, is an excellent example of the contemporary fascination with the charms of rural life. Inspired by the traditional rustic architecture of Normandy, this peculiar model village included a windmill and dairy, as well as a dining room, salon, billiard room and boudoir. Although it was reserved primarily for the education of her children, Marie-Antoinette also used the hamlet for promenades and hosting guests.