The French Gardens
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.
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".
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.
It is clear that water is very present in the French gardens, which allowed the king to show his wealth. André le Nôtre was able to benefit from unlimited means to create these gardens, he had 7 km of underground galleries and 30 km of pipes built to supply the 1,400 water fountains and 35 fountains in the park. The Bassin de Latone, the most beautiful pool in Versailles, which you can admire from the Galerie des Glaces, is composed of more than 70 water jets.
Currently, the Gardens of Versailles are open every day from 8am to 8.30pm. During the summer period, the Grandes Eaux Musicales are scheduled every Saturday and Sunday, the Jardins Musicaux from Tuesday to Friday and the Grandes Eaux Nocturnes every Saturday evening, as well as the evenings of Thursday 14 July and Monday 15 August.
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.