Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet consisted of a variety of different cottages and buildings, all built around a small lake. Each building had a specific function, and each played its part in the daily life of the Hamlet.
The twelve cottages constructed in the hamlet can be divided into two groups: five were reserved for use by the Queen; the other seven had a functional purpose and were used effectively for agriculture. Marie Antoinette had her own house, connected to the pool. Nearby was her boudoir. The mill and the dairy received frequent visits from the Queen.
The Queen’s house and billiard room is situated in the middle of the Hamlet, and it is the largest and most important building. Its construction is innovative: two rustic buildings are connected by a covered gallery that is curved in a half-moon shape. A spiral staircase offers access to the second floor on one end of the house. These buildings included the Queen’s private chambers, as well as her salons and her parlors. The upper level comprises the petit salon, also known as the “room of the nobles”, an anteroom in the form of a “Chinese cabinet” and the large living room with wood panelling hung with tapestries of Swiss style in embroidered wool. From the room’s six windows, the Queen could easily control the work fields and activity of the hamlet. Access is via the staircase of the round tower. At the center of the room is a harpsichord which Marie Antoinette loved to play. On the ground floor, paved with single slabs of stone, the building includes a backgammon room and a dining room. The lyre-backed chairs in mahogany lined with green, were created by Jacob.
To the left, another building housing the billiard room is connected to the Queen’s house by a wooden gallery decorated with trellises and twelve hundred StClement faience pots, marked in the blue figures of the Queen. Upstairs, a small apartment, has five rooms including a library. Despite the rustic appearance of facades, the interior finish and furnishings are luxurious and have been created by the carpenter Jacob and the ébéniste Jean-Henri Riesener.
Bussard, the farmer, came to the Hameau to run a functional farm. Decorated in a rustic style, the farm included three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a dining room. It was well stocked with animals and vegetable gardens, whose crops led to agricultural and culinary experimentation at Versailles.
The warming room is recessed at the rear of the Queen’s house. It has a stone interior and included a large kitchen, a bakery, a fireplace and pantry, also linen and silverware. It was used to prepare the dishes for dinners given by the Queen in the house or mill.
The Mill, built and fitted from 1783 to 1788, was never used for grinding grain, contrary to what is often argued. The wheel is driven by a stream derived from the Grand Lake and is only a decorative element. No mechanism or wheel were installed in the factory. The interior decoration was simple and neat. This structure is one of the most picturesque of the Hamlet. Each façade of the building is decorated slightly differently. This mill also served as a laundry.