As we know, I have a slight thing for Marie Antoinette in history. So I thought this was an interesting post, as well as a cool shot of her tomb.
Alright so someone just sent me a message asking me to explain my snark at Versailles not deserving to have Marie Antoinette’s dress.
Two years ago I went to Paris on a pilgrimage to visit Marie Antoinette. When I got there I called over 16 places trying to figure out how to get to Saint Denis. The lady at the Louvre told me “Oh the Austrian.” I had a few choice words for her. Finally a nun at a Catholic church explained how to get there.
My pilgrimage to Saint-Denis was a long journey to an archaic church where the Kings and Queens of the past were laid to rest and seemingly forgotten. I remember that I was upset when I first got to the crypt, I was already crying by this time and I told my mom this wasn’t right. It was so cold and dark and she was forgotten. My Mom told me that this was the greatest honor a Queen could ever receive, to be buried in this church with her ancestors. Next to her husband and near her son. Included in the history of this country forever. I can’t imagine now that she wouldn’t be here.
This is the gift I left for Marie. White is the colour of her innocence and purity. To get the flowers to her I climbed over a barrier and laid my gift on Marie’s grave. When I went back over the rope, there was a lady waiting for me (later I found out she was in charge of the church) . The lady asked if I had gone over the barrier and put the roses on The Dauphines grave. I thought she was going to scold me so I defended myself. I told her ” I came all the way from Singapore to find Marie and when I got here no one knows who she is and I love her so much. How could you forget her? No one even cares about her anymore but I do and I am paying my respects to her in the only way I know how and I am not sorry for honoring her.”
Bless her she just put her hand on my shoulder. She told me “I know. I think she will like them” And it was like finally someone other than my Mom understood what I was doing and I just remember crying.
I think she loved the flowers – and I’m glad you didn’t end up getting in trouble for crossing the barrier.
I agree with your mother, though, about where she is. It was the final resting place of the kings and queens, and it was where the Bourbons had their remains reburied to honor them during the Restoration. In their world, it was a highly respected place to be rested.
From what I’ve read and heard from a few French forums, the Revolution is usually taught in schools similar to say, the American Revolution. Unless you get a teacher that is willing to look at it from all sides and perspectives, you’re left with years of: “The revolutionaries were good, the British/monarchy/whatever they were rebelling against were bad.”
But, even so, there are plenty of people and places and exhibitions showing that people in France and Versailles do care about the memory of their monarchs. The restoration of her Petit Trianon, the exhibitions devoted to showing all sides of her, the books (especially recently) striving to show she wasn’t a demon or a saint, the yearly masses, the fact that people were willing to spend millions to find out whether a little withered heart belonged to her son, and when it proved to be so, place the heart there with a royal funeral mass, etc.
Once I was reading a French forum, where they were discussing the restoration of the inside of the Petit Trianon buildings. Although currently they don’t have the funds, even in the planning stages there are dilemmas because they still don’t have enough samples or plans to truly represent Marie Antoinette’s decor. They apparently have enough samples/plans showing how the Empress Eugenie decorated the inside – but that the idea of taking Marie Antoinette’s outward Trianon and using someone else’s decor inside, especially when that someone was the wife of Napoleon, was causing a stir.
Oh, and I did some digging and I am pretty sure the dress made it to Versailles! Fashion is My Muse saw the exhibition in person and mentions in her blog that it was there. I wonder if maybe you read about it being turned down from the Grand palais Marie Antoinette exhibition, since there wasn’t enough evidence to definitely prove it was her dress to include it?
(Forgive the tl;dr from a stranger, by the way, I just came across your post on the marie antoinette tag and wanted to put in my two cents!)