Garden of Versailles

Garden of Versailles

A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the palace and gardens of Versailles.  The palace itself is a baroque wonder but sadly jammed with people most of the time now.  The gardens are another matter, built on a grand scale by André Le Notre to showcase the Sun King’s power and ambition.  André, a gardener and landscape architect was first commissioned by Nicolas Fouquet, then Louis’ XIV finance minister, to built a grand garden at Vaux-Le_Vicomte.  He held a party after it was finished to show off his wealth and of course invited the 22 year old king.  Louis loved the garden but was furious that Fouquet dared to be more powerful than him.  So he tossed Fouquet in jail for embezzling funds and appropriated Le Notre for himself to build an even grander garden at Versailles.  The project began in 1661 and continues on to this day as one of the marvels of the garden world. I visited on a cloudy, sometimes rainy, cool September day so most people shuffled through the palace and the garden was left with breathing room!  Both the palace and the garden are well worth waiting the hour or sometimes many more to get in 🙂  The palace at the time was holding an exhibit of strange Korean Pokemon like metal sculptures…I wonder what the Sun King would have thought about them… Now a stroll through the garden of Versailles..its amazing what you can create with a team of 18,000 and more! the grand perspective from Latona's fountain

The Grand Perspective as seen from Latona’s fountain

view of the south parterres

The south parterre

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One of the  flower parterres

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Another parterre filled with flowers

orangery

The orangery at the south parterre

André actually invented the four sided wooden planters with removable panels in order to lessen the stress on the citrus trees when they were being transplanted.  The containers are known today as Versailles style planters and are a must in a traditional or formal garden. Versailles (88) copy 2

Andrés’ Versailles planters

along the Royal way

Along the Royal Way or Great Lawn that leads down to Swan lake

one of the many Greek statues along th eRoyal way

One of the many statues from Greek mythology that adorn the garden

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Marvelous marble urn and topiary

A lucky garden resident

A Versailles resident

Apollo's fountain

Apollo’s fountain

swans on Swan lake

Swans on Swan Lake

Moving deeper into the garden to Le Grand Trianon, a pink marble and porphyry romantic retreat built in 1687 for King Louis XIV and his mistress Mme de Montespan. Versailles (37) copy

Le Grand Trianon

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Gardens at Le Grand Trianon

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Billowing beds of salvia

Le Petit Trianon was completed in 1768 by Louis XV who continued to build at Versailles. Built in the neoclassical style it complemented the Sun King’s style. Versailles (40) copy

Gaura lindheimeri in front of Le Petit Trianon

After King Louis XV died, Versailles passed on to its most famous couple, Louis the XVI and his bride Marie Antoinette.  Louis gave Marie the estate of Le Petit Trianon as a wedding present and she of course went on to build her own folly, the rustic milkmaid village.  Not the wisest choice seeing as the actual peasantry did not take kindly to her view of them.  She also redid the gardens in an anglo/oriental style Versailles (43) copy

Bamboo pergola

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Pleached hornbeam with the pergola in the background

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The Love Momument in the gardens of Le Petit Trianon

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And of course you need a grotto for all that frolicking!

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A “rustic farmhouse”

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Gotta have a veggie patch!

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The mill pond

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And the mill

Moving back towards Versailles… Versailles (73) copy

Past Apollos fountain in full spray

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Into the King’s garden grove

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More dancing fountains

Along the four seasons fountain walkway you can access various groves. Versailles (85) copy

Four seasons fountains walkway as seen from the upper flower parterre balconnade

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The Spring fountain

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The Autumn fountain

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The Colonnade grotto

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The Ballroom grotto

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Lovely stonework at one of the entrances to the Ballroom grotto, featured in the movie  “A Little Chaos”

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A walk back along any of the side allées or the Royal Way takes you back to the palace

Most of the highlights of the gardens can be walked.  It will take a few hours or most of the day 🙂 and wear good walking shoes.  There are little trams that will ferry you about if you get tired.  I hope you enjoyed my view of Versailles and that it will entice you to visit for yourself the next time you are in the romantic city of Paris Au revoir and happy gardening 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Garden of Versailles”

  1. Marvelous article, thanks so much for taking us on a little tour of these incredible gardens. Historic gardens are my thing, but I haven’t visited any of the European gardens yet – must do. Have you ever watched Monty Don’s French Gardens on TV? it’s a series that aired on British television, and public TV here. I just love him, and he visited Versailles, among many other formal French gardens, in the episode “Gardens of Power and Passion”. He is really knowledgeable about garden history, and I really appreciate his commentary as he strolls about these incredible sites. He mentions that gardeners would bring in as man as 150,000 plants in the dark of night so that Louis could be surprised by them when he woke up the next morning!

    1. You’re very welcome 🙂 Yes I have seen Monty Don’s French gardens. They are currently running on our local public tv channel. There are advantages to being an all powerful ruler…or extremely rich!

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