It has been overlooked for centuries, but Marie Antoinette’s private garden at the Château de Versailles is finally getting a makeover.
The executed French royal's private garden, known as Le Bosquet de la Reine or the Queen’s Grove, is set to be revamped as part a multi-year restoration project. The palace was built in the mid-17th century during the reign of Louis XIV to project the absolute power of the French monarchy, which was then at the height of its glory. It has magnificent landscaped formal gardens that were originally designed by André Le Nôtre, but when Marie Antoinette later resided at Versailles, she hired architect Michel-Barthélemy Hazon to redesign the plot located to the west of the Orangerie as her private sanctuary.
Marie Antoinette brought in trees, shrubs and flowers from North America for her garden, hoping it would be a sanctuary for herself and her relatives, but the garden became overgrown and uncared for after her death. She was convicted of high treason and executed by guillotine on the Place de la Révolution in October 1793, aged 37. Damage to the grove was also sustained during a major storm in 1999, during which 15,000 trees were uprooted across the estate. A €1.8 million ($1.96 million) restoration project is now underway, and it will include the Virginia tulip tree being introduced to the garden, as it was the late queen's favourite.
The design will be based on Marie Antoinette's vision for the garden, so the original plant species will be reinstated, as will reproductions of the original sculptures and furnishings that were sent to the Louvre or stolen after her death.
You can learn more about Château de Versailles on its website here.