Visitors of Versailles Palace looking through the central window in the Hall of Mirrors will see the Grand Perspective stretching away towards the horizon from the Water Parterre.
In 1661 Louis XIV entrusted André Le Nôtre with the creation and renovation of the gardens of Versailles, which he considered just as important as the Palace. Work on the gardens was started at the same time as the work on the palace and lasted for 40 or so years.
Creating the gardens was a monumental task. Large amounts of soil had to be shifted to level the ground, create parterres, build the Orangery and dig out the fountains and Canal in places previously occupied solely by meadows and marshes. Trees were brought in from different regions of France. Thousands of men, sometimes even entire regiments, took part in this immense project.
To maintain the design, the garden needed to be replanted approximately once every 100 years. Louis XVI did so at the beginning of his reign, and the undertaking was next carried out during the reign of Napoleon III.
The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domain Royal of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style. Beyond the surrounding belt of woodland, the gardens are bordered by the urban areas of Versailles to the east.
In addition to the meticulous manicured lawns, parterres of flowers and sculptures are the fountains, which are located throughout the garden. The fountains contribute to making the gardens of Versailles unique.
The damage caused by a series of storms in the late 20th century, including one in December 1999, which was the most devastating, the garden has been fully replanted and now boasts a fresh, youthful appearance similar to how it would have looked to Louis XIV and now is one of the most visited public sites in France, receiving more than six million visitors a year.
On weekends from late spring to early autumn, the administration of the museum sponsors the Grandes Eaux– spectacles during which all the fountains in the gardens are in full play. The Grand Canal is the masterpiece of the Gardens of Versailles. In 1979, the gardens along with the palaces were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Enjoy full day tours of Versailles with a licensed guide.