Historians largely believe that the apocryphal “Let them eat cake!” quote was never actually said by Marie Antoinette, but in seeing her lifestyle at the Trianon Palace one can certainly see where the common Frenchman of the 1700’s might believe her capable of such a statement.
Le Grand Trianon and Le Petit Trianon are nowhere near as grand in scale as the Palace of Versailles. They were never meant to be. Ask Marie’s detractors, however, and they would point to her very lifestyle at Trianon as evidence of her folly far more than to the buildings themselves.
This is where Marie Antoinette took time out of her royal day to dress up like peasant, lead sheep on silk leashes through a carefully constructed fantasy in which she could pretend to be a commoner without ever having to step out of the luxury of the royal lifestyle.
To be fair to poor maligned Marie, she was reportedly never terribly well suited to the life of court and the strict etiquette that reigned there. For her, Trianon and the Hamlet served as a close escape from the rigors of life in Versailles where she could spend time with her close friends and family. Indeed, the Big Trianon and Little Trianon reflect that idea well, smaller but still beautiful palaces with plenty of room for those close to the King and Queen to be able to relax or dine with them without the need to put on the same shows as in the Palace Up the Hill.
If I were one of the peasants, though? Some lowly laborer or farmer peeking over the fences into the rarified domains beyond? I think would be taken with distaste for the girl. Some night later, deep into his wine, I can even imagine that same French peasant saying in his ridiculous accent:
” ‘Let them eat cake!’, she said?! To the gallows!”
Train Ticket Round-Trip from Paris: €8.20 (on the RER-C, generally the train named ‘Vicky’)
Versailles Palace ticket: €15
Versailles Passport Ticket (includes Palace, Gardens, Trianon Palaces and Hamlet)
– One Day: €18
– Two Day: €25
Trianon and Hamlet ticket: €10
The Trianon Palaces and Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet are open from 12:00 – 18:30 (17:30 Nov-Mar). See the official site of the Palace of Versailles for more info.
I visited Paris and the Palace of Versailles primarily while working a a photographer with GetYourGuide. Versailles is easy enough to visit on your own, and the gardens themselves especially. If you want to visit the palace the Palace of Versailles and the Trianon Palaces these guys seem like a good choice. Though I didn’t work with them at Versailles, the Fat Tire Tours company offers a Bike Tour of Versailles and Trianon. They were great fun to work with at Giverny on the Monet’s Garden Bicycle Tour, and I assume their Versailles trip would be good too.