Hands down, our favourite part of Versailles was the Queen’s Hamlet, a rustic retreat built for Marie-Antoinette. The Queen is famed for her desire to escape the pageantry of the Versailles court and this rural hamlet was the perfect place to do so. A few hours of touring extravagant palaces and we were wanting to escape to a simpler setting too!
Marie-Antoinette desperately craved a village of her own, so in 1783 she ordered construction of the Queen’s Hamlet. She wanted her hamlet to resemble a Norman village, complete with thatched-roof cottages spread out around Big Lake. The Queen would regularly come here to enjoy the charms of country life and nobody was allowed visit her here without her permission.
It really is hard to describe just how lovely the Queen’s Hamlet is. I felt like I was in a fairytale land- its beauty was surreal! I couldn’t get over how cute the cottages were and Mike enjoyed hanging out by the lake watching the fish. The Queen’s Hamlet was so picturesque and relaxing that we didn’t want to leave. In fact, we almost missed the last train back to Paris because we loved being here so much!
We highly recommend you save enough time on your visit to Versailles to explore the Queen’s Hamlet. It’s not only beautiful, but you get a glimpse into the personal, slightly more relatable life of the Queen. The best part though, is that there are no crowds! We had this place almost entirely to ourselves.
The Queen’s Hamlet
Twelve houses were built in the hamlet, ten of which still stand. The Queen’s House, Billiard Room, Boudoir, Mill, and Refreshment Dairy were reserved for use by the Queen and her guests. Four of the houses were used by the peasants and one house was reserved for meal preparation and domestic chores.
Each of the houses had its own small garden and their balconies and staircases were decorated with flowers, much like they are today. I loved the climbing vines that covered some of the walls and arbours arching over the paths.
The Marlborough Tower, standing on the shore of Big Lake, was used for fishing and as the departure point for boat rides.
Just outside the hamlet was a farm whose produce was used to feed the royals at the Palace. There also was a small collection of livestock- cows, goats and a bull- that were brought from Switzerland.
Tips for Visiting the Queen’s Hamlet
- The Passport ticket gives you admission to the Palace of Versailles, the Trianon palaces and the Queen’s Hamlet. Here is a trusted site where you can buy digital tickets and have them immediately delivered to your smartphone:
- If you don’t want to visit the main palace, a separate ticket can be bought for the Trianons and the Queen’s Hamlet for €10. You can buy this at the entrance to any of the Trianon palaces, or online.
- We didn’t get asked to show our ticket at the Hamlet and I’m not sure why. It didn’t look like you could enter any of the buildings, or maybe they were already closed for the day. We did lose track of time!
- The Queen’s Hamlet is open every day from 12:00 pm- 5:30 pm (closed on Mondays).
- You can enter the Hamlet either by going first through the main Palace via the Grille d’Honneur gate, or directly via the Queen’s gate or the Saint Antoine gate.
- For a fee, there is a shuttle “train” that will take you to the Trianons. You can board it beside the main palace, at the North Parterre. Make sure you ask when the last shuttle will be picking people up, so you don’t have to walk all the way back to the palace at the end of the day. Trust us, it’s a long walk and your feet will hate you!
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Accommodations in Versailles
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