Jardins de Versailles or it’s gardens!

I need to talk again about the gardens or jardins de Versailles. The palace/museum is marvelous, a wonder of art building, a dream. However, the gardens are heavens, peace, beauty au naturel , health, good food, and hours and hours of tranquility amongst the paces of many personalities of our history.

The gardens were/are for me a refuge, I came here often very often much more than inside the castle as lived in the city. This was/is my kingdom, and for certains events in the near garden  and for most of the park is free.  If you want to have some peace away from the city not just Versailles but Paris, and other nearby, come here you will find it. Also, find many interesting folks from all over the world ,maybe even me!

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The gardens developped as did the palace/museum in the Domaine of Versailles , it includes all the buildings and land, that started with 815 hectares or 2003 acres. It is now only 37 hectares or 91 acres, thanks to the French revolution, yet its huge.  The king Louis XIII was of course, the first mover in the development of the gardens, the first traces were laid in the west side of the castle in 1630. In 1662 after the disgrace of Nicolas Fouquet and the appropiation of the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, king Louis XIV put his efforts in beautifying the castle at Versailles with the same team of  Louis Le Vau, Charles Le Brun , and André Le Nôtre.

It is by 1661 that the Orangerie and Grotte de Thétys are done, and king Louis XIV made sumptous parties. Between 1665 and 1668 the enrichement of the gardens continue with the improvement the Grotte de Thétys ,and the addition of the Parterre de Latone and bassin d’Apollon. The grotte or cave of Thétys had another marvelous use  with the hydraulic system that provided water to the gardens, the roof of the cave held a reserve that kept the water pump from the etang or lake of Clagny fed by gravity the fountains of the gardens.

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We come to the Grand Canal, 1500 meters long and 62 meters wide built between 1668-1671 gives you a visual into farther away behind the palace  to the axe east west until the petit parc. In 1674, king Louis  XIV  ordered the construction of the  “Petite Venise“; located by the septentrinal arm of the Grand Canal where it houses the boats and yachts received from the Low Countries ,and housing the gondolas received as gift from the Doge de Venice. The Grand Canal receives the water that filter from the fountains and into the garden;this water was pump by a network of pump made work by windmills and horsemills and later send to the reserves on the top of the grotte de Thétys to again feed the fountains ,so the hydraulic system works in a close circuit.

versailles grand canal to porte st antoine

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Below the fountain of Latone you will see the terrace of the castle also known as the Parterre d’Eau . It forms an axe east west between the castle and the gardens and has a straight view from the Grands Appartements!. In 1674 king Louis XIV ordered several statues as a decorating element for the fountains on the parterre d’Eau, this is known as the Grande Commande or big order, and consisted of  24 statues of classical design created by Charles Le Brun and done by the best sculptures of the times.

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Some of the forest gardens done under king Louis XIV were numerous I just mentioned them here with dates Bosquet du Marais(1670); Bosquet du Théatre d’Eau(1671); Île du Roi & Miroir d’Eau, Salle des Festins or salle du Conseil;Bosquet des Trois-Fontaines.  In 1672, Labyrinthe and Bosquet de l’Arc de Triomphe; in 1675  Bosquet de Renommée (also call bosquet des Dômes), Bosquet de l’Encélade, in 1678  Bosquet des Sources.

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Other wonders such as the bassin des sapins where the fountain of Neptune is located done in 1678.  The gardens were constantly improve and enlarge and three more forest or bosquets came to light, Galerie des Antiques in 1680 La Salle de Bal, with a cascade only one in Versailles that gave rise to many celebrations here by the king,done in 1681-1683. La Colonnade by Jules Hardouin Mansart done on the old placement of the Bosquet des Sources  of André Le Nôtre. This is a circular shape with 32 arches and 28 fountains echoing the architectural expression of Hardouin-Mansart at Versailles,done in 1684-85.  king Louis XV spent more on the palace and trianons than on the gardens so his efforts bear very little here. king Louis XVI try to change the gardens a la anglaise or english but did not work to a la française came back. However, little as his biggest contribution was that of  the  Grotte des Bains d’Apollon.

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The French revolution came in and the gardens suffered too. Trees and grass was removed, and people will come to do their laundry in the fountains…  Napoleon I came but ignored the gardens as well. And it took another Louis to do something about it. In 1817 king Louis XVIII (brother of Louis XVI as the VXII was killed by the revolutionaries) ordered two forests built, these are the bosquet de l’Île du Roi ,and the  Miroir d’Eau , both were transformed into English garden to form the  Jardin du Roi.

The palace and it gardens were finally protected by king Louis Philippe in 1837 by transforming it into a museum! All the palace and gardens is a museum. Many of the gardens bosquets have a short life and no longer exist than those mentioned above. In all a wonderful huge place to come and I say more than a day at least 3 to see it all!

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The official Chateau de Versailles webpage has information on the gardens : Chateau de Versailles on the gardens in English

Tourist office of Versailles on palace’ gardens in English

There you go enjoy a masterpiece of humanity. WE love it, hope you do too, its a must even for it alone! indeed our favorite playground with the boys! The gardens of the palace/museum of Versailles!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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