Marie-Antoinette and Bagatelle castle's crazy bet
Bagatelle: a bet, a folie
Well, king Louis XVI's brother, count d'Artois, owned the estate in 1775 and raised a little castle, the current one. The legend says the count and Marie-Antoinette bet 100 000 livres: the sir said the building work would only take one month!
The queen and her brother-in-law often came here to gallop in the bois de Boulogne. They already noticed this pretty estate, hiding among the woods, near river Seine, with a little castle… perfect to withdraw from Versailles’ etiquette!
Well, architect Galland took up the challenge in 64 days, with 900 workers, working days and night!
The new castle cost 3 millions livres: people called it the folie d'Artois (a folie is a "country cottage", it also means ″madness″!).
The count refit the apartments; painter Dugourre decorated the living room, and the bathroom was adorned with paintings completed by Hubert Robert.
The landscaper Blackie shaped the park: huge lawns, little copses, lakes, rivers, rustic bridges and antic statues...
Horses, turbots, partridges!
D’Artois won his bet… During the inauguration party, a play was performed.
Marie-Antoinette played a maid, when suddenly, a big whistle happened: the king, Louis XVI, didn’t like the play.
Hurt, the queen said: if you’re not pleased, you can go, but they won’t pay back your place! Ashamed, the king apologized…
The count came very often in Bagatelle, for hunting. He also made horse-races, because he was fond of that new fashion from England: hey, do you remember, he bought his horses in the castle of La Lorie)…
During his parties, there was a huge crowd: after that, the lawn and the small trees were completely crushed and puled out, like after a storm!
And d'Artois spent a fortune… His cellars were always full of champagne! 1500 bottles in 1782, says an inventory.
The same inventories also mentioned a diner in 1781. 5 tables with 24 place settings, where people ate: 1 chicken from Caux area in Normandy, 6 red partridges, 48, wild birds from Chartres, 3 chickens à la reine, 8 woodcocks, 2 fat chickens and 3 ducks. Plus fruits, bread, butter, soups and 8 bottles of champagne.
Another time, there were only fishes: aloses (kind of French herrings), sturgeons, turbots and cods.