Grand Canal

Place to see in Versailles, France is the Grand Canal; the largest basin of the park of the Palace of Versailles, which  was built between 1667 and 1679 in the form of a cross.

In 1667, the digging of a large canal was begun, which extended the Royal Alley (the current Green Carpet). The Grand Canal, sixty feet wide, forms a cross that measures nearly seventeen hundred meters long in the east-west direction and one thousand in the north-south direction. It was realized in two stages: from 1667 to 1669, then from 1671 to 1672.

Oriented to reflect the sunset, the Grand Canal, 1.6km long and 62m wide, is traversed by the 1km-long Petit Canal, creating a cross-shaped body of water with a perimeter of more than 5.5km. With the line of beech trees, oak trees, ash trees and wild cherry trees it displays a harmonious overview.

The Grand Canal was used during royal events as a starting point for fireworks or as a real theater set. During Louis XIV reign, it hosted a three-masted ship, a galley, rowboats, gondolas from Venice. The Grand Canal served as a venue for boating parties. In 1674, as a result of a series of diplomatic arrangements that benefited Louis XIV, the king ordered the construction of Petite Venise – Little Venice.

The court settles definitively in Versailles in 1682. Colbert, which is at the origin of the powerful fleet of war which France, is endowed, there then makes build model of the Royal Navy, including a galley and a ship high edge. All these boats, beautifully and richly decorated, must indeed help to show everyone what is the power of Louis XIV. The foreign ambassadors that must be impressed are taken to Little Venice where the ships presented testify to the perfect mastery of the seas now acquired by the Royal Navy.

Above and beyond the decorative and festive aspects of this garden feature, the Grand Canal also served a practical role. Situated at a low point in the gardens, it collected water it drained from the fountains in the garden above. Water from the Grand Canal was pumped back to the reservoir on the roof of the Grotte de Thétys via a network of windmill-powered and horse-powered pumps.

Enjoy full day tours of Versailles with a licensed guide.

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Started the tour to Versailles in a spotless luxury Mercedes Van, so comfy. Our guide Fred proved us with quality transmitters which was great as it can get loud and crowded in the Palace. Fred was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about the Palace and French history. Highly recommend. Thanks Fred.
Clair Myers

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