A distance from the Palace of Versailles (walkable, but you can take a little train or rent a bike) there sits a little farm that would seem to transport you back in time if not for the bulldozer doing renovation work.
When you think of Versalles, the first thing that comes to mind, usually, is grandeur — the Hall of Mirrors, the fountains, the golden gates of the Sun King. But if you’ve had enough grandeur and outdoors and French country sound more to your liking, the Hameau de la Reine (the Queen’s Hamlet) might be something you don’t want to miss.
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A Bit of History of Marie Antoinette’s Farm /Hamlet at Versailles
I preferred it to the grandeur of the palace, and the history is interesting. The queen in question here is Marie Antoinette. Of course, she had rooms at the palace. She had another house away from the palace. But we all need a getaway, don’t we? To get away from palace life, Marie Antoinette had this little rustic village and farm constructed in 1783.
Apparently, she would retreat here, sometimes pretend to be a peasant. This might seem amusing. However, I can imagine what might prompt someone in that position to want to forget who they are. To imagine something simpler. Of course, her life at the hamlet wouldn’t have truly corresponded with the life of an actual French peasant. I’m sure that this playing at peasant life did nothing for her image with the people. We all know how it turned out for her.
The hamlet included an actual, working, farm. Marie the peasant could go and milk the cows. She could walk among a hired assortment of villagers from milkmaids to gardeners. According to the veritable Wikipedia, it was abandoned after the French Revolution and, subsequently, restored in the 1990s. After that, visitors were allowed. Today, there is still some restoration in process on some of the buildings. And there are, again, farm animals, and gardens, and oodles of rustic French charm.
One of the most charming buildings at Marie Antoinette’s farm is the mill. While it never actually served to grind grain, it includes a charming water wheel that you could imagine doing so in days gone by. The Tour de Marlborough sits across a large pond. While it appears to be a lighthouse, it’s just a decorative fairy-tale type tower.
And, of course, the hamlet has plenty of other charming houses and garden areas to satisfy your taste for history and rustic French Country.