The park of Versailles covers 800 hectares, consisting of the gardens of Versailles, the gardens of the Grand and Petit Trianon and Marie-Antoinette’s Estate. Beyond there, before the Revolution, lay the Great Park, over 8,000 hectares enclosed by a 43-kilometer wall, composed of forests and grasslands dedicated to hunting.
About the park and gardens of Versailles
The gardens of Versailles extend from the palace to the Apollo Fountain toward the west for 90 hectares. Beyond the parterres (flowerbeds and flat, rectangular pools), the gardens are organized around large straight paths plotted on a geometric plane crossing groves, fountains and pools. This French garden is decorated with nearly 400 works of art (more than 200 statues), making it the world’s largest museum of outdoor sculptures. The work on André Le Nôtre’s masterpiece lasted forty years, as many as for the construction of the palace, and mobilized 36,000 workers, which shows the importance of gardens in the eyes of Louis XIV. The site was run by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, superintendent of the royal buildings. The statues and fountains were designed by Charles Le Brun, first painter to the king. Thereafter, Hardouin-Mansart, the King's architect, continued the decoration of the garden in a more sober style and was responsible for the Orangerie.
The digging of the Grand Canal, irrigation systems and pipeline represented a technical test for Le Nôtre, who admirably rose to the challenge. The interplay of light created by the basins enhances the perspectives, even today.
The sculptures are ubiquitous in the gardens. Marble, lead, or bronze, they are inspired by Greco-Roman mythology and history and cover many themes. The major rivers of France are represented in the work of the Water Parterre. The theme of the four seasons is represented six times in the guise of men and women. Note that winter is symbolized by an old man, the end of the year corresponding to the end of life. Over 300 sculptures adorn the gardens, works from artists such as Girardon, Tuby or Coysevox.
Open-air lounges or groves
The many groves (small enclosed gardens with fountains and statues), also called open-air lounges, are truly unique plant compositions. Some had the favor of the King and the court as a place of entertainment (snacks, music and dance). Louis XIV especially loved to dance here.
Attention visitors : groves are only open during the water and light shows, on the weekends and on Tuesdays.
Water and the light it reflects was a great source of inspiration for André Le Nôtre. Important design element of French gardens, the water here evolves in all its forms : springing up, cascading down, used as a mirror to play with light and reflect its décor ... In the gardens, light and water are as important as the vegetable garden compositions, playing on contrasts between light and shadow, enhancing the ensemble.