Ever since I discovered my inner 18th century French princess—mind you–a princess who lives on a rather large country estate. I’ve been drawn to the idea of what life in the country, surrounded by rolling hills of green, spattered with flocks of sheep might have been like. Maybe like this painting by Sonya Chasey?
Of course my imagination soars with stories and paintings of Marie Antoinette and her girlfriends, Princesse de Lamballe and the Duchess of Polignac, frolicking about the gardens of the Petit Trianon’s hameau with sheep and goats trailing behind on ribbons of pastel.
The Hameau de la Reine (Queen’s hamlet) included a ferme (farm) where many adorable creatures like fluffy rabbits, furry footed chickens, pot bellied pigs, he-hawing donkeys and sheep lived.
Today, many of these same animals can be seen lazily strolling about the hamlet’s barns and around the ponds, taking little interest in the ogling tourist who occasionally tries to entice them with blades of grass.
The hamlet’s sheep, which are now my new favorite animal, are supposedly the actual decedents of the sheep that where kept by the Queen’s hamlet attendants. I’ve read this many times and would like to believe they are directly related. Sheep have been raised around/in Versailles for centuries, so I’m sure in some way or form they have a little royalty in their blood. My experience with the sheep at the hamlet was very lovely. Instead of a blade of grass I opted for a pretty sweet flower—a choice treat for a sheep of a shepherdess princess, n’est-ce pas?
So, until I have that country chateau set amongst rolling green hills with contently grazing white fluffy black faced sheep, furry footed chickens, flopped eared bunnies and he-hawing donkeys, I’ll make do with my memories of the Hameau de la Reine and the many other creatures I met while exploring the countryside of France.