Petit Trainon lato Est

If you happen to be here by chance, please notice that this article is part of a series that explores the main stages of the fabulous Marie-Antoinette Tour 2019, created by Alice Mortali, President of Aimant, Italian Marie Antoinette Association (Here the complete series))

Day 2 – The upper floor rooms of the Petit Trianon

A special visit was included in this year’s Marie-Antoinette Tour, we were able to access the upper floor rooms of the Petit Trianon.

This estate, inside the park of Versailles, became famous for being queen Marie-Antoinette’s favourite haven.

Petit Trainon lato Est
The “maison” of Petit Trianon as seen from the southern court.

However, to be precise, the building was designed for another “first lady of the court” who wasn’t queen at all.

Louis XV, grandfather and predecessor to Louis XVI, husband of Marie-Antoinette, wanted to offer the Petit Trianon to his favorite, Madame de Pompadour.

The building was finished only in 1768, but the great lady had died of pneumonia in 1764. The beautiful abode then became the idyllic love nest for Louis XV and his next favorite, Madame du Barry.

In the middle, King Louis XV. On the left, Madame de Pompadour, favorite, confidante and intimate friend of the king; on the right, Madame du Barry, the last of the king’s favorites.

In May 1774, right within these walls, the king suffered a sudden illness and was immediately transported to Versailles to live his last hours.

Petit Trianon
Petit Trianon, northern side.

That same year his successor, Louis XVI, gifted this estate to queen Marie-Antoinette.

Year after year, the Petit Trianon became a small paradise, completely fashioned after the queen’s taste, in every detail.

Within its boundaries, Marie Antoinette spent long and totally antithetic to court habits days, where every instant of the sovereigns’ lives was scanned, regulated and most of all public. Access was restricted to only the most intimate people, and there was just one rule: no etiquette.

Marie-Antoinette chemise
Queen Marie-Antoinette with a muslin gown called “gaulle” (1783) portrayed by Èlisabeth Vigée-le Brun. This was the “comfortable” dress the queen wore when she retired to the Petit Trianon.

Usually, it is possible to access the wonderful gardens and the rooms of the Maison where everyday life happened, but with this tour, we could access a part of the upper floor rooms usually closed to the public, the part dedicated to the queen’s times.

On this floor, Louis XV built personal apartments for himself and his entourage (the so-called “appartements des seigneurs”).

The king’s room has been carefully recreated. The “Turkish” bed evokes the one Louis XV had actually owned. The decor of the interiors, with Chinese-themed motifs, resembles the one found in a 1768 inventory.Camera Louis XV Petit Trianon

We know that his successor, Louis XVI, never used this room. He preferred to sleep in Versailles, near the court.

So, it’s possible that his sister, Madame Elisabeth, used it. We have already met this brave and devoted princess when we talked about the sad trial that sentenced her to death.

(Also read: “The tragic destiny of Madame Elisabeth“).

Madame Elisabeth ritratto
Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, portrait of Élisabeth of France.

The other rooms – small and comfortable ones, more similar to the ones of lavish country abode than to a palace’s – are the restoration of the rooms occupied by the women of the Petit Trianon.

Some of the guests of the Petit Trianon in Marie-Antoinette’s times whose rooms have been restored. Upper left there are the queen’s children: Marie-Thérèse Charlotte – also known as Madame Royale – and her brother the dauphin in 1784; beside them, there’s the children’s aunt, Louis XVI’s sister, Madame Elisabeth. Down low there are three key characters at the queen’s service: from the left, the duchess of Polignac (the queen’s most beloved friend and her children’s governess), the Princess of Chimay, her maid of honor, and the Queen’s femme de chambre (maid and reader), Madame Campan.

Apart from the queen and her sister-in-law, the young daughter of the queen, called Madame Royale, had her own room, right beside her aunt’s and not far from the one of her governess, the duchess of Polignac.

Attici Petit Trianon

Same went for who had been the queen’s maid of honor, Madame de Chimay, and even for the femme de chambre (Marie-Antoinette’s maid and reader), the famous Madame Campan. Her memories are the detailed account of a privileged observer of the queen’s intimate life.

Stanza Cimay Petit Trianon
Upper floor rooms of the Petit Trianon, the room of the maid of honor, Princesse de Chimay (thanks to Alice Mortali for the photo).

Attici Petit Trianon

The tour continues to the rooms open to today’s public and well known by the queen’s enthusiasts.

Petit Trianon - camera della regina
The queen’s bed-chamber at the Petit Trianon.

The tour to the upper floor rooms of the Petit Trianon is included in guided tours, also including the main rooms of the Maison. You can book them on the palace’s website here.

But the tour’s second day is not over yet! After exploring the intimate life of the Petit Trianon, we found a small gem, one of the queen’s favorite entertainment places: her private theatre.

To be continued…

Attici Petit Trianon