Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Best Part

Robert Polidori photo

Hello Friends! I must apologize for being away so long! My whole little family has been under the weather, we've just been passing it back and forth. We are much, much better now, whew! It's been a rough week! Oh well, it's nice to be back in top form.

Meridienne room ~ I love these chairs ~ Photos via Flickr

As you must all know by now, I am in love with Versailles. It is grand, luxurious, over~the~top, and impressive to say the least. Strolling through the Grand Salons and the apartments of the Queen and King are awe inspiring but what interests me the most are the private apartments. To try to get a glimpse of the way they lived on a day to day basis, to see what life was really like, that to me is riveting! So, here is a small post on the private apartments of the last Queen of France, Marie~Antoinette.

The petit appartement de la reine is a suite of rooms situated behind the grand appartement de la reine, and open onto two interior courtyards, this was the private domain of the Queens of France, Marie-Thérèse, Maria Leszczyńska, and Marie-Antoinette. The rooms in the petit appartement de la reine have been restored to the state that they left when Marie-Antoinette left Versailles in October 1789.

http://reproductions.chapitre.com/repro/ROUSSEAU-FRERES/PROJET-DE-BOISERIES-POUR-LE-CABINET-DE-LA-MERIDIENNE.html Great site to browse

These several small rooms, which were built in the reign of Louis XV and then redecorated in a delicate neoclassical style for Marie Antoinette, consist of an antechamber, a salon where she sat for her Vigee-Lebrun portrait, a library, a bathroom (which had hot and cold running water and one of the few flush toilets in the palace) and an octagonal boudoir.

In these private apartments, Marie Antoinette and her friends enjoyed some happy times as they gossiped, sewed or listened to music away from the rigid etiquette and crowds of the public rooms. The rooms are small, and the ceilings more modest. The furniture, paneling and wall hangings reflect a more delicate taste in fact, the Queen's own taste.
The above photos are of her Meridienne room. Here the Queen loved to lounge with her closest friends. Each day she would be brought books containing drawings of all of her dresses and other garments. She would indicate her preferences for the day by inserting a pin into the page that depicted the dress she wanted to wear. Later, baskets lined in satin would arrive with her selections. During the restoration of this room in the 1980s, the flooring was removed and a number of these pins were found. Apparently, pins had either been dropped or had fallen out of the books.
An eerie Legend has it that a young Marie~Antoinette rose from a nap on this bed and in the mirrored alcove thought she saw herself headless and shrieked with horror. I don't know if this story is true or not but it's easy to see that it could have happened looking at the way the mirrors are seamed in the photo.

Her "secret" door

This is a great post on You Tube of the private bathroom. If you look at the other posts from this person, there is a ton on Versailles. Great stuff! Lots about the restoration etc.

A view of the door open ~ That small door on the left leads down to her private bath

These rooms are so interesting and play such a large part in the way her history was played out. You can see her famous escape route for yourself: cut into the rear wall near the bed, is a partly concealed door.
She most famously fled through here in the early days of the Revolution (October, 1789), as the mob entered the guardroom a few rooms away and massacred two of her guards.

The hallway in her private apartment

But before those final days at the palace, the little door was a portal to another life. Through here is a treasure trove of private rooms and passageways: to the king's rooms, her private chambers, her children's rooms, and the attic rooms where the favorites had been housed in the past. Oh! How I would die to just be allowed to roam these areas! What a dream that would be.

The walls all depict the "water" theme

The bathroom is, I believe on the ground floor. The Queen had to go through her "secret" door in her room, then directly to the left of that open door is another very narrow door (the doors are so close together that they will hit each other if one is not careful), then proceed down a stone, narrow stairway to reach this gem. Hardly the environment one envisions the queen stirring about in. They very much look like the servants passages.

Not the staircase to the bathroom but her private staircase from her library leading to the family dining room (for those public meals she so hated).

The private bathroom of the Queen of France

The bath in the bathroom is gone, but a raised rim in the black-and-white tiled floor shows where it would have been, it looks very tiny. Marie~Antoinette is said to have taken two baths per day and did so in a muslin chemise (so as to not let her delicate skin touch the metal of the bath). She was very chic in that she was very clean, not a widely followed trend in this day. The only other objects in the room are a bed, a pair of the queen’s "scented" gloves and her travel chest. But what a chest it is, a hefty leather chest with jars, brushes, and vials.
Although this is not the original bed from the bathroom it would have been in a bed similar to this one that Marie~Antoinette would have been massaged daily. She had installed an "English Bathroom" or in other words a toilet that flushed (one of, or the only one in the residence) and also had hot and cold running water. A view of the bathroom

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  1. Stunning.
    The bed in the Meridienne room is just gorgeous.

    So glad to hear that you are feeling better.
    Have a wonderful weekend.


  2. ahhh....Versailles. The first picture a big wow! Each gets better than the last, what a way to live. Plus, I learned something new. Thank you!!!

  3. I'm so glad you are all feeling better. I think you should go to Versailles and receive special privilege to recuperate further in the Meridienne room. My favorite! Oh wouldn't you just love it! I, probably just like you have, I'm sure Judith, have stared and stared at photos of these rooms and dreamed and dreamed. I love the petite - ness and you feel her personality in them, don't you agree? That pink flowered wallpaper makes me feel like I'm inside of a bon-bon, which would definitely be a sweet place to be! BTW - If you want to leave me votre e-mail on my comment page I will not post and then can send you mine.
    Love and Macarons,

  4. I am glad you are feeling better.

    Love this beautiful post, as always it has great pictures not often seen.....you're the best.


  5. Love this post!
    Your personal tour de Maries' World has been such fun ... .

  6. Beautiful as always. Happy you are feeling better - warm weather can't hurt !!

  7. Merci Judith for this post...like dreaming in fairytale! And thanks for the You tube link as well; so interesting. I just love Antoinette.


  8. Judith! Don't you just love French designed rooms with *warm* blues, golds & that spectacular antique glass! Thank you for the wonderful posts. I look forward to seeing what you are up to! Glad to hear that everyone is feeling better! Pamper yourself!

  9. Judith, so glad to hear you are feeling better! Sorry you all are sicky.
    I too have a haute obsession with all the secret doors and passageways found throughout the chateaux of France. I have always dreamed of being granted entry to the "out of the public eye" chambers as I love history and France! If you ever have the chance to do so, I am there with you dear friend!

  10. WOW! I could spend the whole day on your blog, this is another post I'm going to have to come back to and really study with all the links and great design. Thanks for posting it. Pure magic! xoc

  11. Hi Judith!

    I very happy to hear you and the family are feeling better. I love the Meridienne room. Was it(or a similar set)in the Kristen Dunst movie? It looked like the room she was resting in while a gentlemen was briefing her about her etiquette(I think). Nevertheless, it's grand! and I love the walls in the room with the secret door to the toilette. Thanks for the inspiration.

    We have an appointment to meet the little guy next Wednesday and get more information about his situation. I'll continue to keep you posted.
    P.S. Aren't Russian refrigerators the best!!LOL. Have a great weekend. xoxoxo

  12. Dear Judith-

    Lovely post! Versailles was my first ideal-home - i was there for the first time when i was five - and ran down the hall of mirrors screaming: "Oh, here i could live!!!" -or so i've been told...and it sounds like a likely scenario.

    By the way - have you seen the versailles podcasts? -they're in french and available through i-tunes...they take you behind the scenes...show the facade of the old palace above the hall of mirrors, the heating system for the water in the royal bathrooms and so on, and there's a whole series of clips from trianon...unless you already knew...

    -Thank you for your sweet comments!
    I'm sorry to hear about your mother...
    Gosh, that was the most absurd time of my life, i wasn't with her the moment she died and maybe that was for the better, but i'm glad i got to spend so much time with her before she got ill again, about a year after she'd finished her treatment. It's shocking that i've got this far after all that... Thank you.

    Of course you can come to dinner, you must! -and bring your little daisy!



  13. I think I could manage being the Queen, sleeping in those beds and lounging around while waiting for my wardrobe pics to be delivered. I already have a very cool bed so maybe I can train my cats to do the rest? Fabulous pictures!

  14. Oooh to live like a QUEEN in a royal palace wearing gowns and jewels! Sounds pretty good!
    ENJOY your weekend!

  15. Glad you are feeling better. I miss my French History lessons! I am thinking I was supposed to be a Queen and got ripped off and sent here instead! Imagine swanning around in surrouns like that.
    Ness xx

  16. I concur with Catherine, I love the Meridienne room but I'd gladly relinquish it to you, Judith, for your much deserved recuperation. I hope all of your family returns to complete joyful health!

  17. OMG! I lurve lurve the floral wallpaper! I could so live there. Great post thanks for all the inspiring photos. purdywallcovering.blogspot.com

  18. Amazing photos and a great read into the world of Marie Antoinette. I would love to walk through those rooms as well!

  19. bravo ! you are really into it ! whoaa .
    I have a relative who's working at the chateau de Versailles , she's in charge of conservation of the site , i can put you in contact with her ,but i need a bit of time to find her contact ... must ask my grand Ma ,,, my family mother side is noble therefor they are a bit 'vielle france" ;-)

  20. How dreamy of bedrooms. I think I could take a nap in these.:)

  21. Judith this is a wonderful post, I am going to 'the palace' in a few months. How did you book your tour of these private apartments please -the petit appartement de la reine? I cant find any tours or links on the webs I'm searching?
    Thank you in advance


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