The Historical and Magical spots in Versailles!

Hello everybody, I am back in the blog machine. Thinking of my beloved wonderful Royal Versailles again. Well, it was one of the best moment of our family life and the entry into France for us Franco-Americans with Spanish heritage gang.

There are three spots in Versailles that the public do not go enough. The city of Versailles once contacted a survey company and believed they found that 98% of the visitors to Versailles only come to the Palace/museum; and the rest of Versailles? There is plenty to see in the city on its own, nothing to do with things to see from Paris.

An entry point on my humble blog post with some photos on these here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1179

One of them is the Arboretum. An arboretum is a botanical garden with many trees of different species put together like a collection in themes. They are older arboretum in Europe because the history has a twist. …the victors side. The first one in France is credited to Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau (b 1700, d 1782 Paris) a doctor, botanist and agronomist in the 17C.

However, I like to tell you about my Arboretum ; the one Arboretum de Chèvreloup, located in the town of Rocquencourt, in the Yvelines dept 78 and just next to the back of the Domain of the Castle of Versailles. This is now part of the National Museum of Natural History and has an area of 200 hectares with over 2700 species of trees, greenhouses, and vegetable trees.

The park is divided into four thematic zones; the geographical zone with 120 hectares align by geographical area such as Americas, Asia, Europe etc. , the zone systematic in 50 hectares according to their botanical classification, the oldest trees open to the public; the zone horticulture in the center of the park with about 25 hectares of different varieties issue from an artificial selection, and the garden area of about 2 hectares where the trees are raised and exchange with other arboretums and botanical gardens.

The bit of history I like, and the most convincing to me for visited across from the shopping center Parly II and back adjoin to the Chateau de Versailles, is that this park was acquired in 1699 by king Louis XIV that encloses with a wall and served as a hunting ground.  This garden was destroyed upon the death of king Louis XV. At the French revolution like everything else, the goods were confiscated, and the farm on the opposite end of Gally-Chèvreloup  (it is still there since 1741 ferme de Gally by St Cyr l’école!) was sold to private persons. emperor Napoléon 1er buys the lands in 1806. By the 19C and early 20C, the bad maintenance and small spaces of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris made come up with an idea to use the collection of trees ,and in 1922 ; the conservator of the  Domaine de Versailles ,and architect at the National Museum of Natural History named Chaussemiche  established a project called  “Le Jardin de Jussieu, annex du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle” or the Jussieu garden annex to the National Museum of Natural History. The current park was created in 1927, while it was attach to the national museum of natural history.

It’s official site can only found it in French here: http://chevreloup.mnhn.fr/

On the site of the National Museum of Natural History , there is a story and video on it in English too: http://www.mnhn.fr/en/visit/lieux/arboretum-versailles-chevreloup-arboretum-versailles-chevreloup

Another site that should be visited more is the Parc Balbi. The parc Balbi is an English style located next to the Potager du Roi with free access on the street or rue rue du Maréchal Joffre. It is a park of many species of tress and flowers, foxes, butterflies, bees, birds and reptiles like green lizards.

The story really starts in 1785, when the Count of Provence (brother of  king Louis XVI and future king as Louis XVIII) buys the land to create a park for a country retreat and welcome his inner circle as well as mistress  Anne de Caumont La Force, Countess of Balbi (from which the park garden takes its name)  By 1786, the garden is done with a keen interest of the Count of Provence. In 1791, the Count and Countess of Provence need to go into exile and abandoned the garden (due to the French revolution). By 1792, the rare trees were taken to enriched the collection of the Jardin des Plantes in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris as usually Paris takes. By 1872, the Great Seminary buys the garden and does works of renovation and conditioning. Again, by 1907 the school of Jules Ferry is established in the park with a door connection between the park and the Potager du roi done in 1914. The park is handle now by the same management as the Potager du roi, the National Superior School of Horticulture (created in 1873). More on this wonderful park away a bit from the castle that my family really enjoyed is at the tourist office of Versailles in English.

http://en.versailles-tourisme.com/cultural-heritage/balbi-park-943149

And as already mentioned, why not tell you about the Potager du roi.  The potager du roi  is a vegetable garden created in 1683 in the Chateau de Versailles property at the time for king Louis XIV and done by Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie at the time director of the Royal gardens ; later an urban garden with an area of 9 hectares.

Versailles

potager du roi from admin building toward St lous Cathedral

The land here was of good quality , coming from the hills around Satory and after several work on masonry terraces and high walls done by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart.  The potager or vegetable garden is on the side of the water pond named the la pièce d’eau des Suisses or the pond of the Swiss; for the Royal guards), and not far from the Orangerie. The king entered by a grill monumental gate  that gave over the Piéce d’eau des Suisses  (where you can still see the only statue erected to king Louis XVI still standing!) . This gate is one of the most beautiful in Versailles and rare that it is an original!

It is divided into a central area dedicated to the vegetables or the great square or  grand carré with 3 hectares of area , and an area surrounded by high walls and about a dozn rooms or garden housing vegetables and fruits in turn surrounded by trees of apple, pear especially. It counts with  fruit trees of about 4500 trees with more than 400 different varieties, producing in a bad year about 50 tons of fruits and 20 tons of vegetables; part of it sold in the welcome boutique, especially on Wednesdays morning.

The place is in disrepair with about 40% of the trees ,sick and dying.  The latest report mentioned taht of the  4500 trees of  468  different varieties about 40% are sick, dead or dying… Here comes the Americans to the rescue again.  The school of horticulture that managed the garden has ok and received approval from the World Monument Fund (WMF) an charitable organization based in New York  that can provide technical and financial assistance to heritage sites like this one. They are here: https://www.wmf.org/project/potager-du-roi

More info on the official Potager du roi site in French here: http://www.potager-du-roi.fr/site/potager/index.htm

The tourist office of the city of Versailles in English here: http://en.versailles-tourisme.com/visit-and-explore-versailles-the-royal-town/a-town-to-discover/the-king-s-vegetable-garden

Hope you have enjoy the ride into the unusual, historical,and magical spots of my beloved Versailles. We have a lot more to show you in VERSAILLES. Enjoy your week, happy travels, good health to all. Cheers!!!

 

 

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