The Gardens of Versailles

Map of the Gardens showing the Chateau on the right and the Grand Canal on the left. Click on the image for a larger view.

Gardens Throughout the Reigns of Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI:

Versailles Orangerie

The Gardens of Versailles occupy about 800 ha. (roughly 2000 square miles) of land. Most of the gardens are laid out in the French-style (symmetrical). The gardens expanded with the palace, first under the careful watch of Louis XIV, then with Louis XV. Louis XIV’s main contribution, besides the main layout of the Gardens, is the Orangerie, which was installed in 1662.

Ever the botanist, Louis XV enjoyed building the beautiful symmetrical French-style gardens around his newly constructed Petit Trianon.

During the reign of Louis XVI, the Gardens were completely replanted. Both Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI preferred the English-style garden, with its reflection upon wilderness terrain. This is reflected best within Marie Antoinette’s Estate, where she had an artificial lake and stream installed as well as rolling hills and meadows designed to look as if they were in the French countryside, not within the confines of Versailles.

Water Features Within the Versailles Gardens:

View from the Parterre d’Eau showing the Grand Canal and the Bassins de Laoton and d’Apollo.

Before entering the Gardens, one must pass through the Parterre d’Eau, the terrace of the Palace. On this Terrace is a large artificial pond with sculptures dating back to 1664. From the Parterre d’Eau, one can see the Bassin de Laonton, the Bassin d’Apollo, and the Grand Canal.

The Grand Canal, perhaps the most impressive addition to the Gardens, runs straight through the center of the Gardens, 1,500 m long and 62 m wide. It is laid out in a cross shape, with one end meeting the Chateau de Versailles, another the Grand Trianon, and the two other ends ending at other areas of the Gardens. It was constructed between 1668 and 1671.

The Bassin de Laoton, one of the main fountains in the Gardens, was constructed between 1668 and 1670. It represents Laoton and her children, Apollo and Diana, facing an angry crowds of Lycians who Zeus turns into frogs as punishment for their abuse.

Bassin d’Apollo

The Bassin d’Apollo, located in the center of the Gardens, was constructed between 1668 and 1671. It depicts Apollo riding his chariot through the sky.

The Bassin de Neptune, finished during the reign of Louis XV, occupies a large section to the right of the Palace. This fountain has many spraying elements which reach high in the air.

Other fountains, such as the Bassin de Flore, the Bosquer de Trois Fountaines, and the Bosquet de l’Encelade are hidden away in different areas of the Gardens.

This map shows some of the places discussed on this page (Click the map for a larger view).

Number 1: The Palace

Number 35: The Parterre d’Eau.

Number 39: Bassin de Laonton

Number 40: Bassin d’Apollo (right after this is the Grand Canal)

Number 45: The Bassin de Neptune

Number 64: Orangerie

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