“So you like flowers?” Louis XIV said to his young queen, “Well, I’ve got
a bouquet for you–the Petit-Trianon.” And so Marie Antoinette took over the
splendid former residence of Madame de Pompadour, transforming the gardens
into an enchanted landscape. Using archival documents and architect Richard
Mique’s original plans from 1777, Elisabeth de Feydeau recreates the fanciful
herbarium, taking the reader on a journey through Marie Antoinette’s estate, just
as the queen herself would have walked it. The reader is invited to proceed from
the French Gardens, with their beds of hyacinth, buttercups, and anemones, via
the winding paths of the Anglo-Chinese Gardens, through the conifers of the
Belvedere Gardens, where fabulous late night parties were hosted, and past
the entrancing aromas of the shrubs surrounding the Temple of Love, to the
wildflowers of the Garden of Solitude.
Elisabeth de Feydeau’s fascinating reconstruction plunges the reader into the
eighteenth century, showcasing newly-discovered species and the cosmetic
uses of many of the garden’s plants, alongside anecdotes from the royal court.
The volume is brought to life by delicate watercolors of the herbarium by Pierre-
Joseph Redouté, a designer and painter for Marie Antoinette’s Cabinet.
About the Author
With a PhD in history, perfume specialist Elisabeth de Feydeau has authored
books including Les parfums (Robert Laffont, 2011) and Jean-Louis Fargeon,
parfumeur de Marie-Antoinette (Perrin, 2005). She is also an expert on the
perfumes of major houses such as Chanel and Guerlain, and teaches at the
Ecole des Parfumeurs in Versailles.