Versailles 2013: The year of André Le Nôtre

On a cloudy rainy cold Saturday in Brittany, I can only think of my beloved Versailles, just back from been a visitor there after almost 10 years of residency. So, therefore, let me tell you a bit more about Versailles and the year 2013, the year of André Le Nôtre.

Most now know who is Le Nôtre so I will cut short the introduction. He was born in Paris March 12, 1613 (birthplace site the Tuileries, the gardens!!!) ; and this year Versailles is celebrating the 400th anniversary of his birth with a year long celebration on his honor.  There is so much missing on his life because most of the papers of his genie were lost over the periods,,,,!!! his family: André Le Nôtre is a son probably of grandchild of the gardeners of the Tuileries. His father, Jean, has the title since 1625 of plants and garden designer, and share the responsability with Claude 1er Mollet of the Tuileries gardens. His grandfather  Pierre Le Nôtre, was in charge since 1572 of the upkeep of the terraces garden of the Tuileries.  André Le Nôtre marries in 1640, Françoise Langlois, daughter of an artillery commissary of France, they have 3 kids, all died of early age. Moreover, the tradition continues because two of his sisters became gardeners too. Françoise marries  Simon Bouchard, manager of the orangeries of the  Tuileries, post that allows the bequest of their children in the same field. Elisabeth marries the gardener Pierre Desgots,that worked most notably at  Chantilly, and their grandson Claude Desgots will be the next closest collaborator of André Le Nôtre. He learned the trade of designing by working for  6 years with the shop of  Simon Vouet in the Louvre. It is here that he meets and befriend the painter Le Brun (later work with him at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles). He, also, worked in the gardens of Luxembourg Paris, Palais-Royale Paris,and Fontainebleau. His hands are at work too at  Trianon, Clagny, Maintenon, Saint-Cyr and maybe Marly. In the châteaux de Saint-Maur, Saint-Martin de Pontoise, Chaville, Louvois, Pontchartain ,and Conflans, as well as in the provinces such as  Gaillon, Guermantes, Castries, Les Rochers, and so on and on….He started his work at Versailles by order of the King in 1662 next to Le Vau and Le Brun. The making of Versailles begins,and so the ever bright start of Le Nôtre raises to touch the heavens and stay there forever in the minds of all of us that admire this place so much.

He lived on  a house not far from the Pavillon de Marsan (building where today is the musee des arts décoratifs), and it is in this nearby house where he died on September 15 1700. He is buried at the nearby church Saint-Roch in rue saint honoré. Upon his death ,the local newspaper Mercure Galant said of him in 1700, (Trans) ” The king came to lose a man unique,and in love with is service to him, and a strong admireer of his own art, that had given him honor. It is Mr le Notre, general controller of buildings for his majesty , its gardens, and manufacturers of France….Never a man has given more of all that he has been able to give and contribute to the beauty of gardeningThe government of  France has in the ministry of culture a space for him all alone in French, that is the honor of a good son, http://www.lenotre.culture.gouv.fr/index.html

The Events, the city of Versailles celebrates the heroe of it all. 2013, will be activities all year around all over the city.  Starting March 12 every month ,there will be something going on. webpage of city in French,  http://www.versailles.fr/outils/agenda/agenda/article/lannee-le-notre-2013/    Some of these are:

The beautification of the avenue de l’Europe, with a cyclable path along the sidewalks without interruption from the there at the ave saint cloud jonction to the avenue de Paris. The Esprit Jardin annually will be held 23 and 24 march in front of the Cathédrale Saint Louis.  A litteral world of gardens right in the city, with animations and classes.  There will be exposition in the main train stations such as Rive Droite, Rive Gauche, Chantiers.The Jardin des Senteurs at the cour des senteurs on april 25th right by the potager du roi. An exposition of floral art will be held April 18 at the Hotel de Ville.

May 2013 continues with the renovation of the garden in the Maison des Musiciens Italiens as well as jointly with the SNCF to have bicycle paths from the train stations to visit the city on a vélo! it will criss cross the city and give you an opportunity to see more than the castle museum…At the hotel de ville, may 30 and 31 there will be small scale models of gardens of France. In front of the musée Lambinet on May 16 the students of the gardeners school will present a garden a la francaise in front of the museum! bd de la Reine.

June, the great allée Le Notre, more often overlook by visitors, it is the extension of the castel envision by Le Nôtre, along the axe allée des Mortemets that goes to the eau des Suisses at the today caserne Pion almost at the doors of the city of Saint-Cyr-l’école right by the ferme de Gally,back back of the grand canal! A complete renovation in the gardens all dear to me such as Potagerdu Roi, parc Balbi, and domaine de Madame Elizabeth.  On june 30, a guided tour of the Allée Royale in the castle will be done to explain in details this part of the gardens it will start from the bassin d’Apollon descending to the Grand Canal, and beyond into the Etoile Royale going to the communities dear to me such as the Saint-Cyr-l’école,Fontenay-le-Fleury, Rennemoulin, and Villepreux (road 307). This month will be the month Moliére so spectacles all over the city in the gardens with at the potager du roi, Alice in wonderland!

July, The renovation of the gardens in the cimentaries of Versailles! including that of the Israelists. light activities because its summer and August we skip.

September, october, november, the fall begins strong, opening of the gardens or jardin des étangs gobert, two old fountains that feeds the ones in the castle in the 17C! will be back operational on events of sept 14 and 15 it is at the extension of the avenue Sceaux in the district of Chantiers!The laberynth of Versailles will have a historic exposition on sept 14 to Dec 15, at the municipal library, ave de l’independance Americaine in the galerie des Affaires étrangéres on what was Le Nôtre thinking when he did this!  A huge field of 38 fountains and 39 statues evoquing the dreams of Esope, disappearing in 1775 but many were found and preserve, and now showcase!!!not to missed !!! The famous Nuit Blanche or white night saturday October 5 under the title of night of creation or nuit de la Création; it will lit up the buildings of the école des beaux-arts, atelier numerique,académie international des arts du spectacle and the centre d’art contemporaine la Maréchalerie.  The expo inside the museum Lambinet, of Anna Maria Tsakali, of Greek origin studied at he école nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, will have over 50 of her work on display for the first time in a museum! December 15, bd de la Reine.

By the end of the year, it will open the magnificent long work done, and now finally will open, the gardens or jardins architecturés de l’ancien hôpital royal Richaud, the old royal hospital Richaud now a modern condo complex build around it but the central cupola and gardens were kept for all to continue enjoying this place ,wonderful by rue du marechal Foch and rue Richaud.

Not to be outdone, the castle will be honoring too. From June 11 to october 31, Giuseppe Penone will have his sculptures in the gardnes of the palace museum. On october 22 the castle will showcase Le Nôtre and all he had done for it. they are ongoing and some already done restorations in the castle palace museum such as the bassin and parterre de Latone, Bosquet du Théatre d’eau, bassin des enfants dorés, and some wonderful sculptures will be back in the gardens for the first time in a very long time, awaiting impatiently for this!!! By June and July the spectacles will be at the top for le Nôtre, a prize for the garden books will be organise during the rdv aux jardins in the petit Trianon on june 1 and 2nd ,le prix Le Nôtre!

It is still in French ,but all the information about the festivities will be here, as I only wrote the ones I think will be good, there will be plenty more. http://www.anneelenotre.fr/ Enjoy Versailles, city of Kings and royal town of France!!!

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