The Gardens of Versailles – a very quick tour
I realized that as school began a year ago, I never finished sharing from out trip to France, so… Let’s return to France, shall we? My daughter and I visited the Château de Versailles, this quintessential French national treasure, on our very last day in France (a Tuesday, actually on 26 July 2022). We took a guided tour of some of the main rooms within Versailles then headed outdoors to see the gardens.
I had read online that the Latrona fountain (the central fountain) should have been going that that day, but it wasn’t. Maybe it is only turned on during weekends or only for certain events? We could see other fountains spraying plumes of water in the distance, so maybe it was under repair. If we had had another hour at Versailles, we could have walked down the pathways to see them (next time!).
Since we had walked miles already on this day (walking to Notre Dame in the morning and out to breakfast and then taking lunch back to our air b’n’b) and because we had been standing so much (and walking more miles!) the day before at the Louvre, Amy took time to just sit on the long steps and just enjoy the views while I ran off to shoot pics…
It was about 6:00p.m. and we had to meet up with our driver at 6:30 to go back to our hotel in Paris, so Amy went to meet him after a bit while I scurried about snapping photos as fast as I could! We kept in contact by phone texts (international plan through Verizon).
I don’t know if these photos are in order from left to right as you’d be looking at the gardens but each area is interesting on its own! I love the clipped trees into very tall hedges!! I know in England yew and hornbeam are some of the trees which can be clipped this way.
Looking down from the tops of the steps to The Grand Canal… Isn’t this where the Founding Fathers of the United States got the idea for the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool? Perhaps so.
More from the Château de Versailles’ website:
André Le Nôtre’s design for the Grand Canal transformed the east-west perspective into a long open section filled with light and stretching as far as the eye can see. The work took 11 years to complete, from 1668 to 1679. The Grand Canal is 1,670 metres long and its banks have played host to legendary parties, such as in 1674 when it was lit up along its entire length with thousands of jars placed behind transparent decorations. From 1669 onwards Louis XIV sailed different kinds of boats here, including rowing boats, and in 1674 the Republic of Venice sent the king two gondolas and four gondoliers. The gondoliers were housed in a series of buildings at the end of the Canal which was thereafter referred to as Little Venice. During the summer the canal played host to the King’s fleet of vessels, while in winter the frozen surface was used for skating and sledding. The transversal branches of the canal granted access by boat to the Menagerie (to the south) or Trianon (to the north).”The Grand Canal
The Royal Way or The Great Lawn
I started to head down to the long pool but turned left into the forest… Loved the statuary here! Thinking about how much I don’t remember, I looked up what each of these areas are called.
The Royal Way is also called the “Great Lawn”, because of the turf strip that runs along the middle. It measures 335 metres long by 40 metres wide. It was laid out under Louis XIII, but Le Nôtre had it broadened and added twelve statues and twelve vases, placed in symmetrical pairs.Château de Versailles website
It was 95 degrees F. that day and this area was lovely and shaded (a welcome respite as I was literally running to capture photos!), perfect for stopping and enjoying all the trees and birds singing… I wondered what people at court thought while wandering amongst these trees? Was it as shady 200-300 years ago?
I imagine not as these trees would have been babies, or perhaps these are even descendants of those original trees. Fun to think about though!
I think it was this photo which drew me to the restaurant… I thought, “What is that?” I do remember thinking what these fences were trying to hide, maybe some mechanical equipment?
You know how when you visit a theme park like Disneyland or when we went to the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park (it has a different name now and I never can remember it), there were glades like this and it was specifically for hiding elephant enclosures or air conditioning equipment.
Gotta make it beautiful, right? Maybe this was to keep little children (or curious adults) from getting lost in the forest. 😉
A restaurant in the forest
I can’t tell you what all these statues are but somewhere I saved a map from Versailles and I’ll see if I can tell you about this bosquet (forest). Wait! I found this photograph which puts more of this in order (yeah!).
There was this little restaurant in the middle of the forest, La Girandole, but it was closed for the day.
I think this photograph is really from the beginning of the day, but it may be to another part of the gardens within Versailles that we didn’t have on our tour. Maybe some of you know? If so, leave us a comment. I thought that this was where we met our guide, which from the front of the palace would be outside the gates to the left as you face the castle, by the Starbucks (of all things!). I remember a Greek building like this there.
*I thought I’d leave my original thoughts in here so you could read them, although now I know that this was La Girandole restaurant. 😉
Here I was leaving the Bosquet de Girandole. This was one of the last photos in my folder. This tour, though really only 45 minutes long, was sooo enjoyable!
Heading back to catch our ride. A look at Le Château de Versailles from the rear… Magnifique!
Yep, running! Sorry it was blurry. I was literally running back to meet with Amy and our driver, who was kind and waited until 6:45 so I could get more photos and see more of what I could.
I found this orange tree apparently after passing the restaurant along the way but we never made it down the Orangerie where lots of orange trees are in cute moveable crates.
I didn’t see any orange trees out in the upper gardens like we had seen at Le Jardin des Tuileries, behind the Louvre the day before (between the Louvre and Le Place de la Concorde.
I did see a short row of oranges along the left side of the staircases on my way out!
A different perspective as I had just run up the long steps heading to the exit. I would love to have had time to tour each of these garden areas and really see what was planted.
Maybe this is the Orangerie area normally?? Happy to see this little row of orange trees again!
A look at Versailles city surrounds
A gorgeous building at the exit of Versailles as I was walking out?? Maybe as we walked in? I wish I had finished this post last year when my memories were still fresh. I know you couldn’t get back inside the palace once your tour was concluded (which was a bummer!).
The gardens were open until like 8:00 or 9:00p.m. sp we could have picked up something to eat and stayed, rested and then toured down the far end of the gardens. if we’d only known we could have scheduled out driver to come at 8:30!! Oh, well. 😉
A look back across the street to the statue of King Louis XIV…
I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city’s rush hour traffic! The evening was just beginning to cool off, I remember that.
A last look at Versailles up close. Love the architecture and soooo many statues!
Our driver took us through the main part of Versailles city and we saw more lovely buildings from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Thanks for stopping by today and taking a tour around what I could see of the gardens at the Château de Versailles! This has been fun to visit the gardens again with you, a year later.
Blessings to you all,