Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Gardens of Versailles

Louis XIV employed André le Nôtre as his royal gardener in 1661 and the work began immediately - it would be 40 years before they were complete. Le Nôtre was assisted by the men who created the palace: Charles le Brun designed most of the fountains and statues, Jean-Baptiste Colbert directed the project from 1664-83 and Jules Hardouin-Mansart designed the Orangery.

The work was not easy. To accommodate the plans insisted on by the King tons of earth had to be moved and the ground levelled out. What was formerly mushy marshland was transformed into flowerbeds, fountains, canals etc. It took thousands of men to complete the project and remember that all that dirt had to be moved by wheelbarrows! For the King's dream to come true trees of all sorts were imported from all over France and planted in a carefully designed pattern. Since it would be too long a post if I were to list all of the features of each park - anyone who has been there knows how enormous it is - I have chosen the same pattern as used for the château.

Today the garden covers 800 ha. and boasts 200.000 trees as well as 210.000 flowers. Sadly, there are only 620 water jets (and 50 fountains) left of the c. 1500 that were around from the beginning - the water jets are fed by 35 km piping.

The garden is usually divided into two categories: that of the Gardens of Versailles and that of the Domain of Versailles. The difference is that the domain counts all the land connected to the palace whereas the gardens only cover the immediate ground behind the castle (the figure beneath is just the gardens).

The turquoise circles represents the mayor fountains and the red marks the gardens:

The Gardens

  1. The Orangery / La Orangerie 
  2. The Southern Parterre / Parterre du Midi
  3. The Northern Parterre / Parterre de Nord
  4. Arc de Triomphe Grove /  Bosquet de l'Arc de Triomphe 
  5. The Water Theatre Grove / Bosquet d'eau
  6. The Apollo Baths / Les Bains de Apollo
  7. The Ballroom / Salle de Ball
  8. The Queen's Grove / Bosquet de la Reine
  9. Girandole Grove / Bosquet de la Girandole
  10. The Dauphin's Grove / Bosquet du Dauphin
  11. The Star / Bosquet d'Etoile
  12. The Encelade / L'Encelade 
  13. The Domes / Les Dômes
  14. The Colonnade / La Colonnade
  15. The Chestnut Tree Salon 
  16. The King's Garden / Le Jardin du Roi
  17. The Royal Walk / Le Tapis Vert
The Fountains 

  1. The Swiss Lake / Lac du Suisse
  2. Fountain of the Orangery / Fontaine de l'Orangerie
  3. The Basins  / Les Bassins
  4. The Pyramid Basin & Basin of the Nymphs / Bassin de Pyramide & Bassin des Nymphes
  5. The Three Fountains / Les Trois Fontaines
  6. The Basin of the Dragon & The Basin of Neptune / Bassin de Dragone & Bassin de Neptune
  7. The Latone Basin / Bassin de Latone
  8. Lake of Ceres / Bassin de Ceres
  9. Lake of Bacchus / Bassin de Bacchus
  10. The Mirror Lake / Bassin de Miroir
  11. Lake of Saturn / Bassin de Saturne
  12. Fountain of the Girandole Grove / Fontaine de Grove de la Girandole
  13. Fountain of the Dauphin's Grove / Fontaine de Grove du Dauphin
  14. Lake of Flora / Bassin du Flore
  15. The Obelisk / L'Obélisque
  16. Fountain of the Domes / Fontaine des Dômes
  17. Fountain of Apollo / Fontaine d'Apollo
  18. The Grand Canal / Le Grand Canal

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