A Visit with Marie Antoinette’s Ghost

Well, it’s half-past the witching hour on Halloween even though I know everyone will be reading this on November 1 and I also know it’s technically already the 1st here too. So I thought we’d celebrate a bit with an interesting tidbit about a pair of ladies who visited Versailles, got lost on their way from the palace to Petit Trianon and believe that they somehow stumbled through a time-warp of sorts. The two coworkers returned to Trianon several times looking for answers and naturally, they wrote a book about it. It wasn’t well received. For me to go into this in detail would take forever. (In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a bit long-winded!) Thankfully, I’ve got the original book review from The New York Times to get us started. (If you click on it, the article will enlarge in another window. Or you can just squint or lean closer to the screen.)


I hope it’s legible and I’m not breaking every law in existence, especially considering the article is over 100 years old and it’s cited to high heaven. Their book, no longer entitled “An Adventure” is still available under the title “The Ghosts of the Trianon” and–of course–you can buy it on Amazon. In addition to Morison and Lamot’s (aka Moberly and Jourdain’s) original accounts of what they witnessed, “The Ghosts of the Trianon” is filled with “expert analysis,” most of which can border on the comical. (These experts are mainly from the first couple decades of the 2Oth century.) Hypothesis abound, mostly as dismissals. (Hey, it is a hard reality pill to swallow.) The women are accused of having drank too much wine at lunch while being unaccustomed. (Lightweight English! Wine is for the French!). It is even insinuated that they were carrying on a lesbian affair. (Cos ALL homosexual females hallucinate the decapitated Queen of France. It’s what THEY do!)

Jourdain did not see Marie Antoinette, apparently. Moberly claims to have seen the Queen seated in a lawn chair sketching, believing it was an oddly-dressed tourist until later when she saw Adolf Ulrich Wertmueller’s 1785 portrait, supposedly telling her Jourdain “This is the woman I saw in the garden!”


Of course, Moberly may have read Madame Campan‘s memoirs where Campan stated that the above was truest likeness of Marie Antoinette. Interestingly, at the time it was painted the French public held the artist’s interpretation in great disdain compared to those of Madame Vigée LeBrun.

According to the article, Moberly and Jordain found much evidence to support their “time warp” claim. Would you read their book? Curious to see their reasoning? Or do you just think they were dying to be a part of history?

About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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3 Responses to A Visit with Marie Antoinette’s Ghost

  1. Perseverance says:

    I remember this story! Except I thought they’d run into her in one of the halls…


    • ah, not THIS haunting! the ladies had crossed around Petit Trianon from behind and were crossing through the French garden. Know what, I’ll find the direct quote for you. The story is so complicated I always knew it would be a multiple-post subject.

      Now you’ve got me curious about the hallway tale? Do you remember anything else about it? where you read it? Which hallway?

      Thanks for setting up a new post!


      • Perseverance says:

        I think Wikipedia mentioned the hallway one but I’d also read it somewhere else before. Not sure when it had happened but it happened in the 20th Century.

        There must be more Marie Antoinette encounters!


it's not just a love-affair with my own voice

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