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Marie-Antoinette is digitally revolutionising her Petit Trianon ‘playground’

Marie-Antoinette is digitally revolutionising her Petit Trianon ‘playground’

Marie Lecocq - 2006-08-16

Everything you always wanted to know about France’s most famous queen is to be found… on your iPod! Easy to use, practical and light, this clever companion proves to be an effective partner when visiting the Petit Trianon, recently re-opened in Versailles.

Fusty, culture? While the ‘Digital Grand Versailles’ project is pursuing its development, Marie-Antoinette’s playground is entering the era of modernity after having been refurbished. Those in the know can download at home the content of the visit at the Podibus podcasting website; the uninitiated, for their part, can ask for a free iPod at the ticket office at the entry to the site: this scheme will operate until December when the project experimental period comes to an end. It only takes a moment to become familiarised with an iPod and its almost childishly simple functions. With earphones on and iPod in your pocket you’re ready to explore this little known part of the Versailles estate: the queen’s private playground. Allow one to one to one-and-a-half hours for the visit.
 
Your guide, Marie-Antoinette, shows you round
 
The paper plan you’re given will let you find your bearings but you’re free to visit in any order, which should please those who hate following arrowed, marked out routes. Lost your plan? No worry: near each monument a notice indicates the number to press on your iPod. iPods have better sound than conventional audio-guides, are light to carry and leave you free to visit what you want. A delicate voice, that of Marie-Antoinette’s role player, reveals many secrets to you about her peaceful haven, an estate entirely developed by her and for her, except for the Petit Trianon building, constructed for Madame de Pompadour but never inhabited by this mistress of Louis XV.
 
Before of after having admired the Theatre, a real historic gem where the young Austrian aristocrat practised on her own Diderot’s language, you’ll need some flair to discover the grotto camouflaged in its setting of greenery. According to legend, it is here that the sovereign learnt of the fall of the Bastille. Between the commentaries, you stroll through bucolic grounds reminiscent of the paintings of Hubert Robert who is said to have inspired the composition of the queen’s Hamlet and drawn up the plan of the English garden. Now’s the time to enjoy one of the pieces of selected music on your iPod: works by the composer André Modeste Grétry, the author of successful light operas and the queen’s protege. This music can be bought from the museum shop as a pleasant reminder of the site’s intimate atmosphere.
 
Once the visit is over, the adventure continues
 
Your iPod of course does not take the place of the other media to be used during your visit: it’s up to you to use it to suit your needs and curiosity. Thanks to the use of new digital technologies, the possibilities are growing in number; and this is only a beginning. You can already enrich your visit by audiovisual extracts of documentaries to be downloaded to your iPod or iPAQ PDA. Soon extracts from films should follow. Indeed as stated by Brieuc Segalen, the manager of the company Briq and the designer of the modules of the visit to Marie-Antoinette’s playground, the aim is to ‘extend the scope of what is possible’.
 
To download audio and video podcasts of the gardens and château, in english:

Everything you always wanted to know about France’s most famous queen is to be found… on your iPod! Easy to use, practical and light, this clever companion proves to be an effective partner when visiting the Petit Trianon, recently re-opened in Versailles.

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