The Petit Trianon of Versailles!

Ok so this is big, huge for me; trying to update this post on the beautiful Petit Trianon of Versailles. You know if reading my blog, I lived here for 9 years! sublime but more importantly for me , the Petit Trianon was my hanging out area, we jogged here, and ate on the little Angelina open air terrace; so many family memories. Hope you can go along with me on this long post on the history of this wonderful little castle!

We avoided the crowds coming with my boys on a bus 19 from the Parly II shopping center/arboretum in Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt  down ave de Versailles to the Porte Saint Antoine and into the Petit Trianon.  Of course, many more times by car, parking just outside the Porte Saint Antoine. We used it as our garden! jogging, playing, just walking enjoying the history that was done there and having a hot chocolate at Angelina terrace by it.  I like to tell you more details of the Petit Trianon of  Versailles , again a lot more than the palace/museum I said.


This is the grand history of the Petit Trianon of Versailles!

The Petit Trianon is a castle located in the Domaine de Versailles.(name that includes the castle ,trianons, hameau etc all) . Built by the architect of King Louis XV, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, from 1762 to 1768, it is considered a masterpiece of neo Classicism, combining the most modern taste and integration with the surrounding nature.  Built for Madame de Pompadour who died before seeing it completed, it was inaugurated by Madame du Barry in 1768, almost 20 years after the first installations of the new garden of the king. For, although it is the most imposing of the domaine de Versailles , it is not the first building, but rather lies in the continuity of a project that spans four decades. It was offered by king Louis XVI, as soon as he came, to his young wife Marie-Antoinette who gave her imprint, associating for ever, in the imagination of the public, the castle and the Queen.

Of a square plane of 23 meters each side, the building owes its peculiarity to its four facades comprising 5 high windows punctuated by columns or pilasters of the Corinthian order. Due to the slope of the terrain, the ground floor of the castle is only accessible by the sides facing the south and the east; This entrance was  reserved for the service. The noble floor, where one enters through the grand staircase of a vestibule designed as an inner courtyard, includes the reception rooms and the Queen’s apartment.  A three-room mezzanine is home to Marie-Antoinette’s library. In  the attic, several dwellings formerly attributed to king Louis XV and his suite now welcome the evocation of the Ladies of Trianon, these women who impregnated these walls with their brand. It remains the Castle of the Ladies, benefiting in the 19C from the infatuation of the sovereigns Marie-Louise, Marie-Amélie and Eugénie. The restoration campaigns carried out at the beginning of the 21C gave it the allure that he had the day when Marie Antoinette left it for the last time, as if time had stopped.


If the Grand Trianon remains the place of the feasts and receptions, the Petit Trianon quickly becomes a place of intimacy.  Madame de Berry who made it her room, while the king settles in the attic. She was the first to remain regularly at the Petit Trianon, far from the hostility dedicated the daughters of the King and the Dauphins. It is in this castle that the king, who came in the company of his favorite in 1774, felled the first symptoms of the disease that carries him two weeks later to death. The Royal mistress, who has already left Versailles five days earlier, no longer appeared, having received from the new king an order, transmitted by the Duke de la Villière, asking for her to go to the convent of Pont-aux-Dames.


For the first time, a queen of France became the owner of a château; in June 1774, Marie-Antoinette received as a gift from her husband, the new king Louis XVI, the estate of the Petit Trianon. The Queen takes the habit of staying at “her” castle, the King only coming to dinner as a guest. The regulations are made “in the name of the Queen”, not the king; Marie-Antoinette behaved like a simple squire, breaking with the customs. She received her intimates for play, sing, dance, make music, walk in the  gardens, etc. The men are invited but no one other than the king sleeps at the castle. The women are the mistresses of the place and many of them are housed in the Queen’s Suite such as  Madame Élisabeth (sister of King Louis XVI) , who watches over Mrs. Royale, the Countess of Polignac, but also the princess of Chimay, the Countess of Ossun or Madame Campan, the Chamber maid. In ten years, she stayed 116 days in the Petit Trianon.

At the revolutionary auction of 1793 and even temporarily transformed into a hotel, it is made available to Pauline Borghese, the favorite sister of Emperor Napoleon I, respecting the tradition of this residence which remains the “Castle of the Ladies.  The Empress Josephine, who will never lived at the Petit Trianon, participates in the choice of fabrics and furniture, which one wants richer and more elegant than under the former Régime. The Princess, who enjoyed the castle, stays there almost two months in June and July 1805, then one last time in December 1809, when Napoleon returned to Trianon to prepare the estate for his new wife.

The Empress, the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, was the grand-niece of Queen Marie Antoinette ,guillotined by the French revolution. Her marriage to Napoleon, which he was taught to hate, is also a consequence of the “Treaty of Schœnbrunn”, the name of the palace that saw Marie Antoinette grow up. From the Grand, she escapes to the Petit, which reminds her of the castle of Laxenburg of her childhood and where she begins to leave her imprint. She lodges in her great-aunt’s room, entirely redecorated with extravagance, under a golden silk dome that masks the original woodwork. It resumes the lifestyle of before 1789: a set of rings is restored in the vicinity of the Château, it rehabilitates the small theater and gives back sumptuous feasts in the gardens.

With the monarchy of July the castle of the Petit Trianon is attributed to the young couple then called to succeed to Louis-Philippe, the Duke and the Duchess of Orléans. The Duchess, who continues to stayed in the Petit Trianon after the accidental death of her husband, however no longer has the taste of this castle that she finds sad, considering herself in exile. The place falls into oblivion after the departure of this last princess.

The Empress Eugénie de Montijo (wife of Napoléon III) experiences for Marie Antoinette a close sympathy to the devotion and worships her, so much so that one finds this need for identification, pushed to the syncretism, in paintings a staging in a Evocation of the gardens of the Petit Trianon or in an 18C style dress of the Queen. Following the second empire , the Petit Trianon becomes a museum dedicated to the 18C and to Marie-Antoinette, the Queen whose myth begins to be imposed little by little. For more than a century, the castle was the object of little attention, despite the efforts of curators, architects and historians to make the presentation more in line with what the archives revealed. But the revival of Marie-Antoinette’s popularity from the end of the 20C, accompanied by the release of cinematographic successes that are devoted to her and which participate in the propagation of the myth, once again brought light to this small country castle of a queen from France to tour adulated and booed , who, without her being aware of it, contributed to her tragic fate .

A bit on the description architecturally of the Petit Trianon.

The ground floor (1st US), which is called the underground in the 18C is accessed by the vestibule opening by two doors on a modest porch of the entrance courtyard, south of the castle. On the left is the room of the guards and on the right, the billiard room, the rest being reserved for the use of the services.  From the vestibule, you can access the castle’s staircase of honor, turning two straight flights, built in limestone of Saint-Leu and adorned with a ramp in gilded bronze and forged iron. Located in retreat under the flights of the staircase, a door gives access to the warming room covered with a low vault. On the half-step of the staircase at the seventh step, another small door, on the left, allows to join the old Chinese gallery of the ring game by a long corridor created in 1781, the most important transformation brought by Marie-Antoinette to the Petit Trianon, and located under the terrace facing the French garden.  Room of the gardes or body guards until the middle of the 19C.

In the Salon des Billiards corner room on the ground floor originally stands the billiards of Louis XV, who has disappeared. The one ordered by Louis XVI in 1776, a dimension of 414 by 219 cm, is made of solid oak and ivory, with fifteen turned feet. It is accompanied by twenty iron plates for the candles, twelve ivory balls for the War or the Carambola and some thirty tails. In 1784, Marie-Antoinette had it transferred to the first floor and it was replaced by another billiard table, of less elegance, for the officers of the guard. It was sold to a second-hand dealer by the name of Rouger in 1794 during the Frenc revolutionary disposals. The original billiard table was never found, a restitution was undertaken, in 2005, within the framework of a patronage of competence by respecting the materials of origin and the initial colors. After being exhibited in the King’s Small Apartments of the Palace/Museum, it finds its original place in 2008. The walls are fully panelled and the Hungarian point parquet has also been restored according to the original plans. On the fireplace is exposed a bust of plaster of Marie-Antoinette after the marble work of Louis-Simon Boizot,( agreat sculptor of his time, born and died in Paris)  which had been commissioned in 1781 by the Count of Vergennes, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Two paintings are hung on the wall: one, by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun ( a great portrait painter born and died in Paris having been baptised at the Church of St Eustache), representing the Queen and the other, the Royal family.

versailles petit trianon pool table

One of the nice architectural things here is the Salon Circulaire or circular room decorated with objects of fishing,hunting,and gardening. It was the favorite room of Louis XV coming here to rest on his daily routine. It was completed in 1750 base on the country house of Madame de Pompadour, set up so folks can play on the allée de la Fontaine with ducks.  You move outside to the Jardin des Quatre Saisons,  done as a French garden between 1750-1752.  Trace as a cross the building showcase on each corner a season of the year. You notice the road or alley taking you from the Grand Trianon to the Petit Trianon, ,allée des conifères that divides the garden of Louis XIV to that of Louis XV.

You come to see the great dining room or Grande Salle à manger, here was a tasting room for fruits and vegetables of Louis XV! You see mythical figures such as Borée and Orythie, Flore, and Zéphyr.In 1770 Louis XV asked to do three flying tables that will come up in the center of the room all ready for a setting using hydraulic systems and pulleys. Marie Antoinette did not like this so she discontinued its use.

Main Réchauffoir or warming room is on the ground floor assigned to the service in the central kitchen, or, accessible from the vestibule by an intermediate gallery. Two small reserves of office are attached to it. Starting from 1770, it becomes more exactly a warming room, especially intended to perfect the preparation of the dishes that are made in the common.  The Fruiterie room had a mechanism by which one or more tables can be moved by ascending or descending, thus replacing a piece of parquet of the same size in the form of rose. This device provides the double advantage of surprise the guests and preserve the intimacy of the conversations by eliminating the presence of the servants and the indiscrets glances . It has been installed from multimedia kiosks that offer visitors information on the Petit Trianon, in particular its construction and its recent restoration, as well as a three-dimensional modeling of the first floor.

The Petit Trianon was covered with beautiful tapestries in its furniture, the furniture in Marie Antoinette room. In 1774 Louis XVI give this bedroom of the Queen full of flowery insignias, call the Chambre de la Reine mobilier aux épis.  Perfumes and tapestries adorn this wonderful room, and still is nicely decorated, and a perfum born at the Petit Trianon for her ,made from petals of flowers of orange, mix with lavander, bergamote and cedar are still seem at the museum of perfums in Versailles, Osmothéque. Next on the Boudoir de la Reine, was the room where Louis had his coffee,and Marie Antoinette did a room to read and see from there her English garden.  It came with moving mirrors,rich woods, etc, the mechanism for the movable mirrors can still be seen today at ground floor.  The rich woods last were done in 1787.

You will see the nice Chambre de Madame Campan, or bedroom of Mrs Campan, 1st floor and on top of the bedroom of Marie Antoinette. Here is the rooms of the two most personal persons of her entourage.The lady of Honor, and the first lady of the bedroom. In 1786 Madame Campan replaces the previous lady of the bedroom, and became famous by her memoirs. She is the reading teacher of the daughters of Louis XV. By 1770 she was already the second woman in charge. During all this period she knows all the intimite moves of Marie Antoinette and thanks to her memoirs published in 1822 that the history now looks more gentle towards Marie Antoinette.  Madame Campan was the founder of a girls school in St Germain en Laye in 1794; She was in charge of the Imperial house of Ecouén for the daughters of the officers of the legion of honneur. She ended up very poor having her schools closed by Louis XVIII that never forgave her affinity towards the Napoleonic regimes.

Other rooms are the Silver room with an ice mechanism room . The first floor antiroom ,large dining room ,small dining room ,companion lounge, Boudoir, Queen’s room , and toilet. The mezzanine of the Queen’s Apartments restored in 2008 ,and for the first time accessible to conference visits, is home to its library of Marie-Antoinette as well as the rooms of the Ladies of Honor and room of the first maid ,bathroom ,attic.  The attic floor initially houses the apartment of king Louis XV, which is accessed by two staircases located at the south-east and north-east angles. It consists of a room, an antichamber and a corner cabinet. The rest of the floor is reserved for the “Lords” or, more precisely, the rooms overlooking the gardens are occupied by the notable people of the King’s Suite; Louis XVI’s small salon of Madame Royale (daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), small salon of Madame Elisabeth( Louis XVI sister) , toilet of Marie-Louise,  room of Marie-Louise,  (2nd wife of Napoléon Ier) Boudoir of the Duchess of Orleans (wife of Louis-Philippe) and the corner of the Empress Eugénie (wife of Napoléon III).

In 1738 Louis XV ordered done a marble figure of L’Amour,and put it in the center of the Salon d’Hercule in the castle, but in 1749 some of his daughters refuse to have the nudity in the castle and the king decides to put it in the Orangerie of the castle of Choisy. A copy done by Madame de Pompadour is done for her at the castle of Bellevue. Later, Marie Antoinette decides to take the original to the Louvre ,and ask for a new copy. To give value to the statue she decides to put it in the center of a cupola with a tholos of marbre with twelve corinthians columns in 1778. You still see today surrounded by a small stream. Marvel of the four Sphynx couples done in the park where Marie Antoinette like to listen to music ,there are by the Belvedere call Sphinges du Belvédére or Pavillon du Rocher.

You will see around here the Maison de Richard or also known as the Pavillon de Jussieu.  It was the house of the gardener Claude Richard and his son Antoine,when the father comes here in 1754 on the wishes of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. Thanks to the grains of plants sent by Duke de Noailles, from many corners of the world, the botanical richness of the place were the most extraordinary collection of botanical work in Europe; more than 4000 exotic varieties florish here. Here for the first time we saw pineapples grow in France!  Marie Antoinette saved this treasure and asked Richard to transfer the plants to the Kings garden in Paris (the actual jardin des plantes). The Richards stayed close to the Queen, and Claude Richard past away in 1784 at the Petit Trianon, and Antoine Richard lives past the French revolution and help save the gardens of Versailles from the auction block. A true hero ,and one my son is studying this profession!

We go over to the entrance to the Grotte de Marie Antoinette, or cave. On October 5 1789 she receives the letter telling her the Parisiens march towards Versailles. It is near the Belvédére, and it is an artificial cave . The idea for her to do this cave came from Jean-Jacques Rousseau writings in Les Révéries du promeneur solitaire (1776-1778).  At the entrance to the pergola in the jardin du Petit Trianon, you see a huge round lawn , he reminds us of the game of Chinese rings that Marie Antoinette ordered in 1776. It was a huge stable with an umbrella shape turning on a pivot. The first game took place on 1777, where the dames were dressed as merchants and the queen as beggar! The Queen made the list of invitees, and they came using a false name, this created an aura of wild parties which were not. In French you will find info on this under the Emplacement du jeu de bague chinois.  An adjacent building not far from the Petit Trianon , almost making it the same complex is the Théatre de la Reine, you see the two female figures that mark the entrance to the theater, they are Melpoméne, lady of singing, harmony and tragedy and Thalie, lady of comedy. It is here that the Queen invited the society high class to play with her. She played herself and many times in front of her domestic entourage! Her last role was in September 15, 1785 as Rosine in the play the Barber of Seville by Beaumarchais in the present of the author himself!. wonderful place indeed ,and of course gorgeous inside if photos can be taken!!

There you go another wonderful piece of art in the domaine de Versailles, the Petit Trianon. Go back into the gardens and enjoy kingly living for a while.

The city of Versailles Tourist office on the Petit Trianon :

The Château de Versailles on the Petit Trianon :

Enjoy Versailles is Royal, magnificent, gorgeous, historical, architectural wonders and the history of France and the world.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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