Marie Antoinette, The Milk Maid

Marie Antoinette, The Milk Maid

Have you ever wanted to escape from your current situation? We have all had these moments. I have found escape in literature, films and thinking about how enormous the Universe is (it is so overwhelming that it puts things in perspective!). Well, for Marie Antoinette, hell came in the form of The Palace of Versailles. A crazy thought, no? Unfortunately yes. Between the cold formalities of the Royal court and her unconsummated marriage, little miss Marie Antoinette plotted a grand distraction. Her sights were set on the land at the far reaches of Versailles. Her goal? A real life set for her to play the Milk Maid within. How fabulous can you be Marie? Welcome to the Hameau…

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There are darling little trails leading into secret nooks. Plants are grown in a mishmash English style. Picket fences and working water wheels distract you. “Farmers” are ploughing and sowing the land in perfect character. Little goats and lambs frolic among spring flowers. The stones of the houses are modest and quaint. One loses oneself within the Hameau, forgetting how so near the Chateau looms. The Hameau is in direct contrast to the Palace. Marie was inspired by her desire to escape but why did she create something completely opposite in architecture? It is an interesting question. Marie could have just enjoyed her Petit Trianon, perhaps extended its grandeur. However, the trend setters at the time were promoting the simple life. It was this, that influenced the Queen’s choices. Writer Jean Jaques Rousseau and Northern European painters whom were in vogue favoured peasant scenes; albeit romanticised. How could one not be swept up in this idea of a gorgeous little simple peasant life? The artists made it appear sweet like a sip of fresh cows milk on the lips.

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The rumour is that Marie Antoinette performed in her theatre as a Milkmaid, whether it happened or not in the theatre she certainly played it out in the Hameau. I implore you to see the film Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola 2006. This scene in particular celebrates her escapism and whimsical child like happiness that is so consuming when escape is desired so badly.

 

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Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Pablo Neruda

 

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Wearing vintage checked dress, similar here, and here | Zara blouse, similar here  and here

I will share a tip for travelling to Versailles; If you do not want to go inside the Chateau then bypass the thousands of people queuing. Go straight into the garden on the right. Walk down to the large lake and hire a bike straight away. Versailles is enormous. A bike is the most gorgeous way to see everything and the easiest way to reach the Hameau. At the Hameau you do need to purchase a ticket via the Petite Trianon. It is approximately 10 Euros. Then, just explore to your hearts content…

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