Monday, January 31, 2011

Versailles with kids: Le Hameau de la Reine

The Hameau de la Reine, or the Queen's Hamlet, was Marie Antoinette's peasant retreat at Versailles.  It is about a 30 minute walk from the Château de Versailles and composed of a mill, a farmhouse and a dairy.  This was one of our favorite stops at Versailles with our kids.  While we may not return to the Château during tourist season, we will return to the Hameau de la Reine to enjoy it under better weather conditions.   There are also childrens' workshops for little animal lovers.

The hamlet was built in 1783 by the Queen's architect, Mique.  It was designed as a heaven from the restrictive atmosphere of the court, allowing  her and her children to experience the healthful  benefits of country life.   The image of Marie Antoinette playing a dairy-maid with porcelaine pitchers is frequently evoked.  However, a fully functioning farm, the hamlet also employed and housed several otherwise destitute families and provided food for the royal family.   

Children aged 6-15 
Monday-Saturday 14:30-17:00 
(including school holidays)
8 euros (free for disabled children)
Attire: Warm clothing & rubber boots

The farm is home to 2 cows, 6 donkeys, 3 pigs, 21 goats, 32 sheep, 10 rabbits, 35 chicken, 17 ducks, 4 turkeys, and a sheep herding dog.  Children discover each animal, how they live and are cared for (nutrition, exercise, hygiene) as well as their role within the farm.  Children are also given the opportunity to participate in everyday aspects farm-life.

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