Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Queen's Market

Marie-Antoinette is frequently associated with shopping, but how did she shop? It is often forgotten that Versailles, being open to the public, was a place of commerce; vendors set up their stalls in the courtyards and galleries of the palace. As for the Queen, she would usually receive tradesmen in the morning while her hair was being dressed. However, she always sought ways to celebrate the life of the ordinary French people, particularly the peasants whose industry fed the nation. In September, 1777 Marie-Antoinette had a farmers' market in the park at Trianon to inaugurate the opening of her new gardens. The Queen wore peasant attire and served at an outdoor "tavern." Pierre de Nolhac describes the market thus:
A market-place was set up on the lawn...where the baker, the confectioner, and the purveyor of charcuterie dispensed their wares...and even the cook's shop was busy in the open air. All these stalls were connected by a garland of roses....

There were shows of all sorts....Actors...gave several performances on an improvised stage....The avenues leading to Trianon were lined with the booths of Paris shopkeepers who had been engaged to come, their expenses being paid.
(Pierre de Nolhac's Marie-Antoinette, 1905, pp.226-227)

1 comment:

lara77 said...

Oh to have been a fly on the wall when the Queen greeted all these vendors! I would have loved to have seen the craftsmanship; the leather goods, the jewelry and the toys! To try to imagine that all these goods were made by hand and probably the best were brought before the King and Queen.With all these people and the noise no wonder Her Majesty retreated to the Petit Trianon!