Hameau Not of the Reine (Petit Trianon)

20120714-074730.jpgHameau Not of the Reine (Petit Trianon)

You worry as a single mom about your kids
missing out. Sure, there’s the relative calm, the extra
legroom–when you are the sole monarch
of the home, there’s a whole lot less of that hushed huff-puff,
the mangled tussling hiss that can crowd almost
any sour coupled space–
Okay, so you’re rushed. Things sometimes fall through
unseen cracks. And even that
calm can be worrisome, especially to those
who do not feel very
absolutist.

And what about, you wonder,
that steadying funk of male sock-dom? The sweetness
of shaving cream? The bristled warmth
of a daily dad kiss, the accompanying, just don’t
worry about it–
words
that somehow don’t sound the same
from single-mothering
mouths, a burdened-female shoulder
not often geared
for Gallic shrugs.

So, in a Cartesian proof that I could too
do it, I took my brood to France, Paris, and
from there, to Versailles – palace of past kings, where
on the way,
I thrilled silently at my map skills, my innate
sense of direction, my confidence even
on the curiously abandoned subterranean platform,
where amid the  scattered
mounds of debris (Municipal strike), my two kids
and I blandly read
the guidebook’s warning about which days the Versailles’
crowds were annoying large, until we arrived at last
at the dark frilled gates–fermé
(on Mondays.)

Well, at least, there weren’t
any crowds.

And the gardens were open – and really were
the best part
- I declared, my fretfulness
in full bloom, and…well,
at least, it won’t be
crowded.

So, beneath a sky that felt fiercely uncontinental,
we sought out little rounds of shade
around the pom-pommed shrubs, cheeked and fingered wisps of
spray from fish-throated fountains, until I noticed, in
the vast crowdless expanse, a conspicuous absence
of guards, and scrambling
among certain barely-roped graveled paths lifted
each child to a shiny palace window where, if they
scanned way way way to one side, cocking their
heads against reflections, they might just
catch a glimmer of mirror, and my children,
dutiful, kind, and slightly breathless
from the way I squeezed them aloft, said, that
yes, yes, they could see them, and as I set their
feet back on the gravel, that that
was enough to see anyway.

Then my little flock toured the thatched, stone hamlet (open) where
Marie Antoinette had played house, as shepherdess, me congratulating
us on how these picturesque little
outbuildings were far
more interesting than some palace, pointing out that
we might even have missed them had
we come on a day when Versailles was, you know,
crowded, and my children, dutiful, kind, and
aware of my slight breathlessness,
quickly agreed.

***********************************

The  Hameau de la Reine is the “hamlet of the Queen,” where Marie Antoinette, courtiers, and many many servants, played peasant; it is situated right by the Petit Trianon at Versailles.  The Hall of Mirrors, one of the great attractions of the palace is where all those treaties were signed.  The above is posted for the Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub hosted by yours truly to write something with a French Twist, for today Quatorze Juillet. Check out the great poems!

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38 Comments on “Hameau Not of the Reine (Petit Trianon)”


  1. How disappointed you must have been for the children to have gone all that way only to find it closed. It seems as if you made the best of it all though, as only a parent can. The descriptions throughout this are so vivid. I bet the gardens were beautiful.


  2. I much preferred the Petit Trianon to Versailles where, if you look closely, there are no bathrooms.

    The poem itself is full of nostalgia, a touch of regret, yet the strength that comes from wanting to do what is right for yourself and your children. Nicely done, Karin.

  3. aprille Says:

    Priceless!
    What a description of a day out, set in a crown of care and love for the next generation.
    Who cares about the mirrored halls of fame when such delicately orchestrated cultural entertainment is on offer.

  4. brian miller Says:

    have yet to make it there myself…i would hope not to have things closed but what can you do….def enjoyed your story telling and visit…what a cool trip it must have been though to take your family…would love to be able to do that for mine….

  5. hiroshimem Says:

    What a great story! I just LOVE these moments when, travelling, you have to change your plans in a moment… And that’s when most good surprises arise! Thank you for your honesty! Here is something I must reflect upon:
    “And even that
    calm can be worrisome, especially to those
    who do not feel very
    absolutist.”


  6. Life is a succession of happy discoveries, non?

  7. Mary Says:

    Karin, it sounds as if you made the best of the situation. I bet the children enjoyed what they saw more than they would have enjoyed a tour of Versailles. I commend you for finding a way to go with the flow and for enjoying the good of the experience. Now you have a reason to go back someday (but not on a Monday). I enjoyed your poem. Thanks for the prompt….

  8. Claudia Says:

    made me smile…often the things that go “wrong” are those that turn out best in the end… haven’t made it yet to versailles, just to paris once on a business trip and rushed through the city in a two hour break, trying to see as much as possible..def. have to go back

  9. lucychili Says:

    i know another single mum who took her two girls to france.
    we are in australia. i think you’re both groovers. what a wonderful adventure. =)


  10. You have so many ‘been there, done that’ comments it would be unfair to add to them, but you know … ~smiles~


  11. Well told, k! I could feel all those parental emotions as you went through the day.

  12. dfb Says:

    Fabulous piece, heavy in nostalgia perhaps but beautiful and quite a feat.

  13. Lydia Says:

    Wow. I loved this storypoem. You, dear Promptess, have a most highly-developed and unique voice all your own. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    (p.s. My mother was a strong and quirky mother-father, who would have appreciated this poem. I wish she were alive for me to share it with her.)

  14. Shawn Says:

    It is the moments of life that make us individuals. The initial worry of children missing out is a struggle for us all. Some parents worry so much they put their kids in every conceivable sport and music program.

    Your poem in a gem of experience. A story well written.


  15. The prose was wonderful K ~ Your writing leaves me breathless, as if I am running and weaving along the way with you ~ I also admire the strength of the single mother and her love for her children ~

  16. kkkkaty Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience…and your children will always have it to remember you by..

  17. Chazinator Says:

    Now, this I simply love. You depict the scene so amazingly, so clearly. From your description of the trip planning to the innate sense of direction to the denouement at Versailles, each moment of humanity, being mom, sharing a humble moment amidst “history.” of course, that is pretty much the circumstances of the poor at the time, no? Interesting parallel from which children can indeed learn the lessons oh history. Great stuff!

  18. yoga-adan Says:

    totally touching with the kindness between you and your children

    absolutely loved (with its later refrain) :

    “and my children,
    dutiful, kind, and slightly breathless
    from the way I squeezed them aloft, said, that
    yes, yes, they could see…”

    wonderful K., thank you, oui! ;-)

  19. janehewey Says:

    I love how you describe your children here “dutiful, kind, and aware” love also your taken role as father and mother at once, with kind references to “father” in your second stanza. This poem rings with pleasure (slight breathlessness) and accomplishment. I was a single mom for five years. You have captured, in this very well written piece, the marriage that happens with self when parenting as a single…at least that is what happened in my experience and in my interpretation of this piece. I love your images-pom-pommed shrubs, fish-throated fountains, reflections. And for the most part, I avoid crowds. bravo!


  20. Sehr groovy poem, and having been to Versailles once upon a time myself- may I say that while the inside is groovy the outside is as well- and with a huge crowd it would have been far less groovy! Peace.

  21. hedgewitch Says:

    This is almost as if you sat next to us over a coffee and told the story–charming, informal, full of insight, and even some self-insight(always the hardest) and entertaining in every way. I love vicarious travel, so thanks for holding me up, slightly breathless, to look in the Hall of Mirrors.


  22. I too was charmed by this mother’s journey, and liked the repeated words ‘dutiful, kind, breathless’. -Also very impressed, as someone who is amazed at seeing moms handling their little ones on a simple trip to the grocery store.


  23. a mother’s love and day! Great piece!


  24. So sweet–loved the repeated phrase–our children do love when we try to do something for them even when we fail (and those mirrors are awfully cloudy anyway)–lovely day in the life of the single mom–really enjoyed this!

  25. ds Says:

    Oh, sweet! I too love the refrain of your “dutiful, kind, breathless” children, and the echo that forms against the anxious, breathless, kind mother who will do anything for them. Lovely. Thank you.

  26. hobgoblin2011 Says:

    Really neat mix of emotion in here, and the occasional french term scattered in is very nice. The first time I went to Paris, the louvre was closed, so that was a bummer, but caught it on the end of my extended trip as it was open the final couple weeks.

  27. David King Says:

    As a dad with a loving wife, I worried at times about the kids missing out, so It’s easy to see how much a single mum must do just that. This magnificent story suggests to me that you overcame the difficulty.

  28. Blue Flute Says:

    Nice story of a trip with your kids. It definitely felt very much like Europe. When I went to Florence all the museums were closed due to… strikes. But at least you and the kids were still able to have a good time. I’ve always wanted to see Versaiile, but even though I’ve been to Paris, I haven’t been there…


  29. Lovely imagery and capture of the very human and kind exchange within a family that loves one another. My single mother took us to Alaska where we saw humpback whales, grizzly bears, sloughing glaciers, Russian villages, Native American culture, and parts of Canada and Seattle. Thank you for the inspiring prompt.


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