The Hameau and Its Factories
Besides being historically significant, this is as beautiful of an area of Versailles today as it would have appeared to the Queen centuries ago – and quite a contrast to the stateliness and grandeur of the Versailles Chateau. The village is situated around three sides of a lake with the outer appearances of the buildings typical of a rural village of the time. In some instances, the building interiors are in contrast to their exteriors being opulently decorated as befitted a Queen and her private audiences.
The main building is the Queen’s House and Billiard Room consisting of salons and parlors where the Queens would entertain select guests. It has been restored to reflect the furnishings of Empress Marie-Louise as the original furnishings were destroyed and disbursed during the Revolution. Behind the house is the Rechauffoir comprising of a kitchen, bakery, pantry, and storehouse for the dishes and linens, all needed to dine in the Queen’s House. The Boudoir, another separate building nearby, was the Queen’s private retreat in her village retreat.
The hameau was not only decorative but also a working farm with gardens and livestock. The farmer on site lived in the Farm with his family. There was a Dovecote (Le Pigeonnier) for hens, and a Dairy consisting of two buildings, the working one of which was destroyed in the revolution. The Mill (Le Moulin) looked like a real mill on the outside with working wheel propelled by water from the Grand Lake but inside, it was used as a laundry and never saw a stalk of grain.
Two other picturesque buildings stand beside the lake: the Guardhouse (La Maison du Garde) wherein lived the Queen’s bodyguard, and the Tour de Marlborough modelled after a lighthouse, circular in shape and often referred to as the Fishery Tower. The last of the ten buildings, and of the two no longer existing, was the Grange, a large barn that contained the Queen’s ballroom.