“Wow, rich people are crazy.”
That was my first reaction when I visited Versailles, after I saw the blindingly golden gateway and that entire damn room filled with mirrors. I know, it’s an important historical site, but let’s be real — members of the French aristocracy at that time were like magpies on speed with their insistence on collecting unnecessary shiny objects. The whole place makes you feel like you’re in a really fancy episode of Hoarders, but the obsession with over-the-top interior decoration isn’t the only example of mental instability that can be found on palace grounds. Marie Antoinette‘s personal hideaway, the Petit Trianon, is chock-full of its own brand of craziness, not to mention heaps of #whitegirlproblems.
The Petit Trianon is only a short walk from the palace, but Marie Antoinette treated the château as though it were hundreds of miles away from Versailles. When life became too stressful at the highly critical royal court, or when her responsibilities as Queen of France weighed too heavily on her massive powdered wig, she would retire to this small house and refuse entry to anyone she didn’t trust. She even tried to avoid her servants entirely, allegedly commissioning tables at the Petit Trianon that would emerge from the floor pre-set so she wouldn’t have to interact with a wait staff.
Those magic tables weren’t the only additions she made to the Petit Trianon to make it suit her escapist needs. In a field close by the young queen built the Hameau de la Reine, a rustic toy village complete with a functioning farm and dairy. Here she would strip away the binding garments required in the royal court, don an apron, and play with farm animals in verdant pastures all day as if she was a country girl rather than the head diva in charge at Versailles. See? Crazy.
During the French Revolution, the Hameau de la Reine became a symbol for the aristocracy’s belittlement of the lower classes as it simplified and fetishized their daily life. As a result it was abandoned, until a restoration in the 1990s allowed it to reopen to visitors touring Versailles. There’s even a special pass for guests who want to skip the garish big house and just see “Marie Antoinette’s Estate” — or, as I like to call it, Marie-Ann’s Hermit Hole.
I have to admit I felt bad for Marie Antoinette after seeing the Petit Trianon and the Hameau de la Reine. The image I had of her switched from that of a selfish monarch eating cake on a chaise lounge to a scared little girl who just wanted to escape the world she was thrown into and milk some goats. I’m no medical professional, but I went to a liberal arts college in New York so I’ve interacted with enough loony toons to be able to diagnose a personality disorder. Read about Marie Antoinette, visit the Petit Trianon, then glance over this list of warning signs for avoidant personality disorder and try to tell me that homegirl didn’t lose her mind before she lost her head.