The Orangery, Estate of Versailles by Jules Hardoin-MansardPalace of Versailles
When you visit Versailles, you will not only be amazed by the grand architecture of the Palace, but you will also find many treasures hidden around the extravagant gardens. The grounds were first renovated by Louis XIV in 1661 and have been maintained to a royal standard ever since. Take a walk around the gardens of Versailles and experience this living work of art.
The king's pride and joy
In 1661, Louis XIV instructed landscape artist André Le Nôtre to create the gardens of Versailles, which the king considered just as important as the Palace.
They didn't appear overnight
The renovation of the gardens was started around the same time as the palace, which took over 40 years!
A huge task
Creating the gardens was a monumental task. Large amounts of soil had to be moved to make the ground level and to create space to build flower beds, fountains, and the famous orangery.
A job for the masses
Trees were brought in from different regions across France and thousands of men – sometimes even entire regiments from the military – took part in this immense project.
Getting stuck in
Louis XIV was so attached to the gardens of Versailles that he sometimes picked up the gardening tools himself if he spotted something that did not look quite right.
A place to party
Louis XIV also loved organizing parties in the gardens. In 1664, on a stage set up in the Royal Way, the king performed a ballet called The Princess of Elide, which had been specially written for the occasion.
When he was not dancing, Louis XIV would sail along the Grand Canal on a 20 meters long galley ship, which was powered by 42 rowers.
A water-less canal
This canal has been emptied three times. First, in 1792 to turn it into a vegetable garden, then in 1808 when Napoléon restored its banks, and finally in 1940 because the large water surface worried the people of Versailles that it was an easy target for enemy bombers.
Fit for a king
After a series of storms in the late 20th century caused devastating damage, the garden was fully replanted. It now boasts a fresh, youthful appearance, similar to how it would have looked under the reign of Louis XIV.
An ever-evolving garden
To maintain its design, the garden needs to be replanted approximately once every 100 years. Louis XIV did so at the beginning of his reign and the garden was replanted again during the reign of Napoleon III. Whose turn will it be next?