Water features of all kinds are an important part of French gardens, even more so than plant designs and groves. At Versailles, they include waterfalls in some of the trees, spurts of water in the fountains, and the calm surface of the water reflecting the sky and sun in the Water Parterre or the Grand Canal.
The Palace garden is designed around alleys running parallel or perpendicular to the Royal Way and marking out trees. At the four crossroads of the principle alleys stand four fountains, built in the 1670s and dedicated to the four seasons. The Spring Fountain or Flora Fountain (1674) and the Summer Fountain or Ceres Fountain (1673) are to the north, while to the south are the Autumn Fountain or Bacchus Fountain (1674) and the Winter Fountain or Saturn Fountain (1677). From a viewpoint at the end of Latona’s Parterre and the entrance to the Royal Way all four fountains can be admired at once.
West of the Water Parterre and on either side of the central axis are two fountains. They are composed of fighting animals and demonstrate impressive realism. To the north, the Diana or Evening Fountain features a lion bringing down a wolf and a lion bringing down a wild boar to the south, the Daybreak Fountain features a tiger bringing down a bear and a bloodhound bringing down a stag. In each piece, the water jet of the victorious animals falls into the upper basin, while the jet of the defeated animals falls into the lower basin.
The Water Walk ends in a semi-circle at the Dragon Fountain. This piece represents an episode from the legend of Apollo, in which the serpent Python was killed by an arrow shot by the young Apollo. The reptile is surrounded by dolphins and Loves armed with bows and arrows and riding swans. The main water jet reaches a height of 27 meters and is the tallest among the fountains in the gardens of Versailles. On either side of the fountain are alleys leading to two groves: France Victorious to the south and the Three Fountains to the west.
The Neptune Fountain was made between 1679 and 1682. At the time it was called the Lake below the Dragon Fountain, or Lake of the Pines. The original design consisted of marine decoration on the theme of Neptune. During the following reign, the shape of the pool was modified. The new fountain was officially opened by Louis XV and was greatly admired for the number, size and variety of water jets falling around the lead sculptures. It currently has 99 jets, constituting an extraordinary hydraulic system.
Latona’s fountain illustrates the story of Latona, the mother of Apollo and Diana, protecting her children from the insults of the peasants of Lycia. The god obliges by turning the inhabitants of Lycia into frogs and lizards. Latona’s Fountain also has a parterre containing the two Lizard Fountains.
Apollo’s Fountain is based on the legend of Apollo, the Sun god and the King’s icon.
The Mirror Pool was dug in 1672 to complement the large Royal Isle Fountain opposite. The two pools were separated by an alley.
Nymoh’s Bath also known as Diana’s Nymohs’ Bath, this pool collects the water from the Pyramid Fountain.
When night falls, the gardens are transformed to offer a stunning visual and musical treat as fountains and groves come alive with colorful and dramatic lighting effects exploring the groves with their water features spouting to the rhythm of music.
From 2 April to October, visitors may enjoy the Musical Fountains Shows and the Musical Gardens in the Gardens and the groves open for the occasion. During summer, every Saturday night discover the Gardens of Versailles differently with the Night Fountains Shows.
Enjoy full day tours of Versailles with a licensed guide