Reading Time: 4 minutes


Marie-Antoinette was probably one of the most controversial
queen in history. Some people loved her, others hated her. But
above all, she was a passionate woman, exploring all the wonders of
the “Century of the lights”, Les Lumières. Elisabeth
de Feydeau
, Ph D. in history and Perfumes / scents
expert, published L’Herbier de
(The Herbarium of
Marie-Antoinette). L'Herbier_de_Marie-Antoinette   What can we say
about this book? Well, it describes an interesting facet of the
French-Austrian Queen: her passion for her royal gardens. This book
represents an imaginary herbarium that the Queen herself could have
made. It is based in several historical documents from National
archives and the plans of the architect Richard Mique. Marie_Antoinette   This narration
reveals the importance of naturalism during the 18th Century but
also the personality of one of the most amazing Queens in history:
Marie-Antoinette. The 18th century, the enlightenment, saw
incredible advance in philosophy and science. Men got interested in
what surrounded him and try to understand the significations and
the reasons why. It was also the highlight of Botany and a
naturalism trend grew during the entire century. Gardens became
places, not only for lea sure, but also to free the mind. A true
link between men and nature.

The Mall in St. James's Park
The Mall in St. James’s
Park – T.Gainsborough
People enjoy walking and spending
time in Gardens. We open the forests and parks. Spaces of freedom
that allow more fantasies and lightness. When the king Louis XVI
offered the Petit Trianon to his Queen Marie-Antoinette, he offered
to her the freedom she was looking for. Far away from the golden
prison of Versailles and its court, Marie-Antoinette transformed
the ancient property of Madame de Pompadour into a magical place.
Louis Nicolas de
Louis N. de Lespinasse,
Cupid temple
In 1778, Marie-Antoinette’s garden was
finished and she could enjoy peaceful moments. All the art of
Antoine Richard, Royal Gardner, was to create the most amazing
garden and yet, all was supposed to look as natural as possible. In
Elisabeth de Feydeau’s book, we can dive into this amazing
atmosphere. We can also get some hints of the queen’s complex
personality and life. Ripped from childhood too soon, brought into
one of the most complex royal courts in Europe at that time,
Marie-Antoinette craved for escapism. And her garden was the
perfect place for that. She was also passionate about Fragrances
and scents, as she had her personal perfumer Jean-Louis
Fargeon. She learns all the scented plants and improve her
knowledge for botany. The book itself it is very beautiful.
Illustrated as a herbarium, we can discover more than 60 plants and
flowers that we could see at the Queen’s gardens. L'Herbier_de_Marie-Antoinette_inside L'Herbier_de_Marie-Antoinette_detail L'Herbier_de_Marie-Antoinette_details L'Herbier_de_Marie-Antoinette-pages   Every time you
discover a new page, it is a true delight to read extracts of
personal mail between the Queen and her friends. We also get some
information about where the different plants were presented in the
garden. For many of them, the queen and her perfumer were making
fragrances and pomades. For example the Blue Cornflower
(p.172-173). we could read that this plant was used to fight some
eye diseases. By making a distillation of it, we would get a
scented water called “breaking glasses” because it was know
to strengthen the eyes. Under the direction of Alain Baraton,
responsible for the royal gardens of Trianon, Elisabeth de
Feydeau opens a very interesting window into personal moments of
Marie-Antoinette. L'Herbier_de_Marie-Antoinette_mood If you want to purchase
this book, available for the moment in french, here are 2
addresses: L’Herbier de
Editons Flammarion Recommended
Retail price: 35€ 240 pages
This book was also supported by the company Firmenich, famous international
Fragrance house. They developed for many years a state of art in
terms of scented plants knowledge. The Firmenich Perfumer’s palette
is considered to be one of the most complete, creative and
qualitative of the market. It was natural then to see this company
linked to such project. To learn more about Elisabeth de Feydeau,
here are some interesting links:
© L.Sassiat

Elisabeth de Feydeau company’s website:
Elisabeth de Feydeau’s blog:
Enlight your day with a wonderful scented journey. LA L'Herbier_de_Marie-Antoinette Info sourced at
Elisabeth de Feydeau’s book, website and wikipedia. All content is
copyrighted with no reproduction rights