Have $1,600 for a Tree? France Is Calling

Marie Antoinette's private garden is finally being revived
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2020 5:20 PM CDT
Home to French Scandal Is Getting a Makeover
Marie Antoinette, painted by Martin van Meytens, 1767.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Marie Antoinette's reign ended badly—the queen of France was guillotined for treason in 1793—but her taste in gardening lives on, the New York Times reports. A private garden designed to her liking is being rebuilt at Versailles, and after years of debate, caretakers have decided her taste will prevail. "A person could walk for two hours without taking the same path" in her garden, says Jacques Moulin, at top architect at Versailles. That's because Antoinette loved English-style paths and pretty vistas, which added an earthy flavor to Queen's Grove along with bursting roses, tulips, pansies, and chrysanthemums. But the 1778 garden fell into disrepair after the French Revolution and was battered by a raging storm in 1999.

"The garden of Marie Antoinette experienced the same fate as Marie Antoinette," sighs Moulin. But back in February, workers were planting tulip trees—a favorite of the former queen's—to be followed by more planting next winter and, finally, the reproduction of Antoinette's statuary. Now Versailles is seeking patrons who might pay $1,600 for a tulip tree or $160,000 for the cherry tree arbor. Even more interesting: In a page out of Dangerous Liaisons, the Chateau de Versailles website recalls that the grove was home to an infamous 1784 scandal. It involved an Antoinette imposter scamming an ambassador into putting a down payment on a pricey necklace. The necklace was then stolen, and the public blamed Antoinette—anger that later helped fuel the French Revolution. (More Versailles stories.)

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