The French gardens are an essential part of the 815-hectare park of the Château de Versailles. They were designed and created by the most famous gardener and landscape architect in French history, André Le Nôtre (1613 - 1700), at the request of King Louis XIV. The gardens surround the castle on three sides.

Vue des jardins à la française


André le Nôtre did not invent the French garden, but he did enhance it. The French garden style would later spread to all European courts.

 

But first of all, what is a formal garden? It is a garden that combines three elements.

Initially, perspective and symmetry are integrated into the landscape. One discovers the gardens as one walks, as André le Nôtre said "the eye creates the perspective and walking brings it to life".

Fontaine jardin de Versailles

Secondly, there is a constantly renewed surprise effect. At the Château de Versailles, this is particularly true of the walkways that open onto groves with water effects, such as the Salle de Bal, the Baths of Apollo, the Colonnades, the Enceladus and the Chariot of Apollo.

Finally, the French garden is a garden that combines minerals, plants and water.

 

In 1661, when the gardens were built, the land was marshy. André le Nôtre therefore had the idea of digging the Grand Canal. This allowed the water to be drained from the estate and brought to a central point, which led to the draining of the swamps. Through the creation of the gardens of Versailles, which lasted some forty years, we can see the progress of science and mathematics at the time, which is reflected in the layout of the gardens with geometric flowerbeds, symmetrical basins and straight paths. Perfection is sought. Here, man dominates nature, he is the one who orders things. The garden of Versailles is a garden of power, it serves to impress all the king's visitors.

Jardin Versailles

It's clear that water features prominently in the French gardens, allowing the king to show off his wealth. André le Nôtre had unlimited means at his disposal to create these gardens, building 7 km of underground galleries and 30 km of pipes to feed the park's 1,400 water jets and 35 fountains. The Bassin de Latone, the most beautiful pool in Versailles, can be admired from the Galerie des Glaces, and features more than 70 water jets.

Jardin et vue de la fontaine

The Park and Gardens are open every day. In winter from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and in summer from 8 a.m. to 8.30 p.m.

In summer, admission to the Gardens is charged on the days of the Grandes Eaux Musicales and Jardins Musicaux, which take place every Saturday and Sunday, as well as on the evenings of Thursday July 14 and Monday August 15.

Access to the park is via the Grille de la Reine (pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles), with an entrance fee of 12 euros per vehicle, and via the Grille des Matelots (pedestrians and cyclists).

 A mobile application for the castle is also available, offering audio tours during your visit as well as an interactive map. It can be accessed without an Internet connection.

March 15, 2023

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