Château de Versailles Gardens & Park

sights / Parks & gardens

Lonely Planet review

The section of the vast gardens nearest the palace, laid out between 1661 and 1700 in the formal French style, is famed for its geometrically aligned terraces, flowerbeds, tree-lined paths, ponds and fountains. The 400-odd statues of marble, bronze and lead were made by the most talented sculptors of the era. The English-style Jardins du Petit Trianon are more pastoral and have meandering, sheltered paths.

The Grand Canal , 1.6km long and 62m wide, is oriented to reflect the setting sun. It is traversed by the 1km-long Petit Canal, creating a cross-shaped body of water with a perimeter of more than 5.5km.

The Orangerie , built under the Parterre du Midi (Southern Flowerbed) on the southwestern side of the palace, shelters tropical plants in winter.

The gardens' largest fountains are the 17th-century Bassin de Neptune , a dazzling mirage of 99 spouting gushers 300m north of the palace, and the Bassin d'Apollon , built in 1688 at the eastern end of the Grand Canal. The straight side of the Bassin de Neptune abuts a small round pond graced by a winged dragon. Emerging from the water in the centre of the Bassin d'Apollon is Apollo's chariot, pulled by rearing horses.