My whole life I’ve been obsessed with English history – compared to us Americans, their stories are so fascinating. So when my new husband and I got the chance to jet off to London, Scotland and Paris for our honeymoon, I had no doubt that London would capture my heart, and Scotland would be a close second, while Paris was sort of an “eh, we’re there already, why not?” tacked on to the end of the trip.
So imagine my surprise when this wee corner of Versailles ended up being my favorite part of our whole trip. If you’ve never been there, imagine vast, sprawling grounds (which are, in fact, open as a public park), and tucked away at the very back, far from the grand palaces, was the Hameau de la Reine – The Queen’s Hamlet. The queen, of course, being Marie Antoinette.
She so craved a spot away from the limelight of the court that she devoted a whole section of the Versailles grounds to building her own little farm village (replete with vineyards, a water wheel and sheep, which we unsuccessfully tried to pet). Many would point to this little hamlet as a sign of her signature disregard for finances, but look at this. LOOK at it. I spent a whole hour wandering around the little pebbled streets, then another simply sitting on a mossy, derelict bench and gazing at her accomplishment, laying around me in such a delicately beautiful state of disrepair. Perhaps the best part was that we were alone – no one else had ventured this far back to see this. Or maybe that’s the worst part.