The Orangerie at Versailles

The Gardens of Versailles took 40 years to construct. Louis XIV commissioned Andre Le Notre (1613-1700) to create them at the same time as the palace, and the land-scape designer worked on them with several collaborators including Jean-Baptiste Colbert, superintendent of the king`s buildings; Charles Le Brun, first painter of the king, who drew a large number of statues and fountains; and architect Jules Hardouin- Mansart. The king insisted on signing off everything personally.
Le Notre was born into a family of gardeners and studied architecture, mathematics and painting. By the time he was commissioned to create the Versailles gardens, he was in charge of all the royal gardens in France and was also controller-general of theroyal buildings.
Inspired by Italian Renaissance gardens, he worked with the original grand perspective that stretched down through the park from the central window in the hall of mirrors. He widened this royal path and dug out the 1.8km-long cruciform Grand Canal, which was used for mock naval battles. Woods, grasslands and marshes were transformed by a workforce of thousands, sometimes involving whole regiments. The 800ha grounds include 50 fountains fuelled by a 35km-long pipe system, 200,000 trees, an orangery and various ornamental groves or bosquets used for entertainments such as plays, parties and music.
Many items within the garden used imagery associated with the Sun and Apollo such as the Grotto de Thetys (1670) and the Apollo Fountain (1671).
The gardens were supplemented by Marie Antoinette`s Petit Trianon in 1774, and in 1783-7 her Hamlet, a rustic village including a farm, a mill and an orchard.
The garden has been replanted several times over the centuries and it is unlikely that any trees still exist from the original landscape design. It was given Unesco World Heritage List status in 1979 and now receives six million visitors per year.

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