The Palace of Versailles contains a daunting 2,000 acres of gardens. These gardens are intricate and were designed with care and with the intent of making them beautiful.
The large body of water behind the palace is a reservoir that was used to power all of the fountains in the garden. There are 2,000 fountains but 800 operate today and were once gravity fed. Aqueducts carried the water from the reservoir to the top of the gardens. Thus, the fountains at the bottoms of the gardens were strongest as they had the higher water pressure. The reservoir itself took ten years to create and is about a mile long and fifteen feet deep. The reservoir, shaped as a cross, also served as a canal in the days of King Louis the 14th, 15th, and 16th.
Symmetry plays a large role in the structure and layout of the gardens. The Apollo stature that lies within the reservoir showcases the impressive planning of the alignment of the gardens. During the summer, the sun will set directly above the canal and directly behind the Apollo statue.
In the 1600s the Versailles gardens were home to the largest vegetable garden in France and it is still functional to this day.
There was a building where fruit trees and other tropical trees were housed during the winter time. King Louis the 15th would have the trees placed outside when he would host prestigious guests to create the illusion of summer time.
The gardens house many groves which serve different purposes. The Ballroom grove is one area that was used for ballet and other dancing performances during the reigns of the Louis. It is oval in shape and contains many fountains and terraces of shrubs, which were once seating. It also contained multiple fountains to create the illusion of a waterfall. During the time of the Kings, an orchestra performed here. Louis the 14th was known for his appreciation of the arts and was actually known as the ‘Dancing King’ because of his love of dancing. The marble used in this grove contains volcanic rock portions originating from Madagascar. By Louis the 15th & 16th, the grove was used as a costume ballroom. Two more (of many) beautiful groves are called the Columns grove and the Insulades grove. The columns grove was used as a ballroom and contained many pillars, or columns, of marble. The Insulades grove contained a statue in the center which alluded to the Ancient Greek mythological story of Hades’ kidnapping of Persephone, the daughter of the Goddess of Nature. Pictured below is the Ballroom grove as it it seen in the summer time when the fountains are active. Photo courtesy of bienvenue.chateauversailles.fr.
2,000 gardeners currently work here to maintain the gardens. The head designer and landscape architect at the time of the Kings’ reign was Andre Le Notre, and his most notable work is, in fact, the gardens of Versailles.
Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis the 16th and last queen of France, had a farm near the backside of the gardens. Here there were animals, to which she only occasionally attended.
The gardens are a beautiful portion of Versailles with a rich history, and they are a wonderful place to visit and view the scenery.
-Erin S and Geoff M (third and fourth from left)