the most-asked question on Tiaras & Trianon

marie antoinette card game“What card game are they playing in the garden party scene in “Marie Antoinette?”

Yep. It’s not even worth a Top Five Countdown. This particular detail in Sofia Coppola’s 2006 cinematic synopsis of our favorite Queen’s life is by far and away the number one FAQ ’round here. Honestly, outside of this movie, where have we seen the old “card-on-the-forehead” bit? Smells like fodder for the opening credits of an 80s sitcom…visualize if you will: a reformed pool hustler and small-time bookie’s life is turned upside down when he realizes he’s inherited three small orphans. Many heart-warming life lessons. Cheesy “live audience” soundtrack. The youngest orphan is a little girl no older than 5 with a catch phrase she can barely pronounce….oh dear Lord, we can see it! Nobody talk to ABC…

Okay, back on topic. It’s a “Tiaras and Trianon Investigates” post, the ‘Tiaras’ version of “60 Minutes” or “Dateline.”

let’s ask the internet shall we?

duchess of devonshire gambling

the duchess of devonshire, a contemporary of Marie Antoinette’s a visitor to Versailles, also overindulged in gambling like the Queen of France

Card games popular during Marie Antoinette’s time included whist, chemin de fer, pharaoh [or ‘faro’ if you were the Duchess of Devonshire,] quadrille, and the fortuitous-sounding Great Game of Marly. Played with tarot cards and Marie Antoinette’s least favorite, the card game was only played when the royal family was at residence in–you guessed it–the Chateau at Marly.

louis xiv shooting pool at Chateau de Marley-le-Roi

None of the rules indicate the need to slap the jack of spades on one’s brow. Of parlor games that required not chips or felt, billiards were extremely popular in 18th Century France as well as tennis, croquet and checkers.

Now the game the guests are playing on Marie Antoinette’s 18th Birthday, We believe, is tric trac, a fast table game played with dice that was popular. Tric-trac was a black hole for gambling chips. According to all of the big three M@ biographies [Zwieg, Lever, Frasier,] a game facilitating the loss of copious sums of livres, was right up ‘Toinette’s alley.

marie antoinette movie birthday scene Louis goes to bed

Thanks to the infallible veracity that is Internet information, especially when gleaned from a forum, those cesspools of opinions presented as facts, the game has also been identified as some form of poker. It looks like tric-trac to me, so…the Blog Hostess has spoken, nyahhh…

why your blog hostess is a fool and a good case for HDTV

marie antoinette movie cardsIt would be blog-istically pococurante–hey! at least one of those is a real word!–to proffer a question and offer no answer. That’s just setting ourselves up to look like an idiot and we can do that just fine without trying, thank you very much. How to further scrutinize an inane bit of movie trivia? Rewatch the garden party scene, duh! Thank God we happen to own and like the film. You know, for the blog’s sake.

Rewatching an old favorite for the first time on a HD big screen reveals minutae previously undetected. Rewatching MA:2006 was no different. Every time somebody asked “what game are they playing?” your Blog Hostess thought specifically card games. None of the characters in the garden party have playing cards on their forehead at all. How did we not notice this before? Was that just an assumption we made based on all of the gambling that took place in earlier scenes?

marie-antoinette-and-milena-canonero-for-marie-antoinette-trianon-partyMarie Antoinette, Fersen, and company are simply playing that old party game in which each guest is blindly labelled as a reknowned person. Everyone must guess their identitiy by asking questions of the other revellers. An HD-look reveals a romantic, scrawling cursive on each piece of forehead-paper. Thanks television! The Princesse de Lamballe film comtesse dubarry is sent away Marie Antoinette movieguesses correctly, she’s Alexander the Great. Coppola uses this scene to work in some inside jokes as well. Another party guest, maybe he’s supposed to be the Comte d’Artois, has been baptized “du Barry.” He is offered the clue, “You’re stupid.”Guess Comtesse du Barry still hasn’t earned clemency. The Versailles Vendetta continues…

marie antoinette film comtesse de noaillesMarie Antoinette’s note reads “Noailles:” Marie Antoinette’s First Lady of Honor when she arrived at Versailles. Good old Madame Etiquette who tried to curtail her fun all those years with her unflinching adherence to court manners. Kirstin Dunst’s character asks, “Am I here?” elliciting the response, “Thank God no.” Comtesse Noailles would certainly have disapproved of licking one’s forehead to adhere anything. Can you imagine Wet Blanket just blowing a gasket had she been there to see them smoking opium after the game?

So there you have it. I’ve Googled, Binged and Yahoo-ed the answer to that question time out of mind: no answer. Watch three minutes of a film we’ve seen a jillion times: question answered.

TV beats the Internet. Suck it Internet.

marie antoinette movie pink hair garden party

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.)
This entry was posted in france, marie antoinette, trivia 'toinette and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to the most-asked question on Tiaras & Trianon

  1. aubrey says:

    This is Very Important research; history reach into many nooks and crannies – one never knows what one will come up with!

    However, I still want to slap that movie in the face. (don’t judge me)


    • LOL! No offense taken! That made my day…most likely cos it sounds like something I’d say!

      Tell me, dear Aubrey, what specifically makes you want to slap the movie? I have a bevvy of issues with it myself. I forgive ‘cos it’s pretty to look at but….

      well, you first, please!


  2. Perseverance says:

    My favourite is definitely the name-guessing card game. 🙂 Everyone looks silly but it’s lots of fun trying to guess who ‘you’ are for those few minutes.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Angelyn says:

    Heh–a pity that manners, good or bad, saved neither Madame Etiquette nor Madame Capet from Madame Guillotine. Such a great lot of mesdames!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. porges says:

    The game with dice is not Tric-trac (which is like backgammon) but some kind of Put & Take game — in an earlier shot you can see the board clearly with P&T squares along with tout (all) and la moitié (half); the play of the game is not being modelled correctly in the film.


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

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