VERSAILLES – A Walk in the Park (and what a Park!)

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A detailed guided tour through the baroque mythological splendors and eye popping and head scratching extravagance of the park of Versailles.

The park grounds of Versailles are immense and splendid.

Below a map of the whole park:

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Only the bottom quadrant in the map above is now part of the Versailles Chateau tour.  The rest is now public park or areas for which there are separate entries.  We will get to some of these too.  But first let’s start with the chateau adjacent park grounds, which are immense in their own right, and certainly splendid.  Before his descendants got their heads chopped off for their ruinous profligacy, Louis XIV had park grounds designed that surely matched his palace (see here) for impressiveness.  This map below will guide us through the chateau park grounds:

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Let’s start at the Water Parterre just in front of the center of the palace:

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Next head left to gaze over the Orangery Parterre and smell the flowers of the South Parterre.

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The centerpiece of the park is Latona’s Fountain & Parterre.

Wait, what’s that perched on Latona’s arm?

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The myth of Latona: she and her children were mistreated by townsfolk. When she pleaded to Zeus, the God turned the townsfolk to frogs.

 

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Some of the statues portray townsfolk mid transformation.

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Plenty of white stone statues in the parterre around Latona’s fountain.

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Which makes this post in part also a continuation of my “Sensual Statuesseries.

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The Ballroom:

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Walking to Bacchus’ fountain:

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The Queen’s Cove:

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Next we move up to the top left corner of the map:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girandole Grove:

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The Mirror Fountain:

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Excerpt from the Mirror Fountain show:

 

Finale from the Mirror Fountain show:

 

The King’s Garden (with the Mirror Fountain behind):

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That guy who keeps showing up walking ahead of me in these photos is, of course, Ed, my husband:

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Colonnade Grove:

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The statue depicts the abduction of Persephone by Hades.

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Apollo’s Fountain:

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We will see it again with the water turned on later in this post.

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More sensual statuary.

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From here we walked beyond the ticketed portion of the chateau adjacent park (to which we will return, got a whole extra half to see) and checked out areas of the park open to the public or on separate tickets.

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The Grand Canal:

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The Petit Trianon:

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We now approach the Hameau de la Reine, the Hermitage of Queen Marie Antoinette.

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200 hundred years before Disneyland, Marie Antoinette had herself a bucolic “Farm World” built, where she could play act at being a peasant girl.

Her bucolic home away from palace home has an idealized rustic look, but during her time the furnishings inside were still the height of luxury and style.

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Some buildings, like this one below are no more real or habitable than a movie lot stage set:

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This building was habitable though, as it housed the gardener and his family:

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Enough of the Queen’s expensive play pretend of the modest life.  Back to the obvious ostentatiousness of the rest of the main Versailles park grounds:

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Apollo’s fountain was turned on while we were away:

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Enceleadus Grove:

(I know tons about Saturn’s moon Enceladus, but can’t tell you a thing about the myth of Enceladus.  The fountain makes it look pretty dramatic though.)

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Flora Fountain:

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Ceres Fountain:

(As you can see, not all fountains were turned on during the day.  But tune in later…)

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The Water Theatre Grove:

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These fountains are a modern design, recently installed.

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Apollo’s Bath Grove:

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As in the chateau, Louis XIV had his face transplanted onto Apollo’s body.  He did fancy himself the Sun King after all, and Apollo is the Sun God.

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Getting to the bottom right corner of the map now…

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The Pyramid

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Later in the evening, the Pyramid Fountain waterworks would be turned on:

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Three Fountains Grove:

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Triumphal Arch Grove:

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The Dragon Fountain:

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A quick glimpse at the Neptune Fountain.  The waterworks would not be on display when we got there in the afternoon.  But don’t despair, there will be video and pics of the Neptune Fountain’s night time lit waterworks display as well as many other Versailles fountains to come…  Plus fireworks!

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You see, we might have had to leave the Versailles gardens as they closed down in the late afternoon…

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But as luck would have it, we visited Versailles the one day of the year they put on a spectacular night time lit fountains and fireworks show.  So Ed and I left to get dinner while the park closed down for two hours to set up all the lights and fireworks machinery.

These twilight pictures were taken upon our return, waiting by the Water Parterre for the rest of the park to be opened for the night time fountains and fireworks show.

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I will be sure to share plenty pics and videos of that bit of extraordinary extravagance in my next post.

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About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 30 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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