I mentioned in my first post that Versailles is what happens when royalty loses touch with reality. As if the palace and gardens weren’t enough for the French monarchy, in 1687 Louise XIV began construction of another palace to serve as a “recreational residence”. It was here he could escape his official duties and retreat with his maitresse-en-titre, a semi-official position of “head mistress”. The Grand Trianon is a sprawling Italianate palace, replete with its own gardens and park.
The Grand Trianon was followed 80 years later by the smaller neoclassical Petit Trianon. Built for a maitress-en-titre of Louis XV, she died prior to its completion and it was given to Marie Antoinette by Louis XVI in 1774 when he ascended the throne. A pavilion between the Grand and Petit Trianon was used as a further retreat and for intimate garden parties while the Temple of Love was used as a place of reflection.
The Petit Trianon eventually became the centerpiece for the development of Marie Antoinette’s estate where she could escape from the royal court. In addition to the parkland, a peaceful hamlet was constructed in 1787 with its own cottages, farm, vineyards and mill, a quiet oasis of meadows, lakes and streams.