At Versailles the curators have taken historical reconstruction to its limit. After the storms in 1990 and 1999 it was decided to restore the petit parc to its 1700s state. “Our guide is Louis XIV,” says Catherine Pégard, head of the public body that runs the chateau, museum and domain. “Our aim is to restore the garden to the condition described by the king in 1704 in Manière de Montrer les Jardins de Versailles. But in places any sign of Le Nôtre has long disappeared. The water theatre grove, for example, vanished during the reign of Louis XVI. That’s why I asked Louis Benech and Jean-Michel Othoniel to re-create it. But they are nevertheless following the example of the great gardener.”

ヴェルサイユ宮殿の庭園では、専門職員が歴史を重視した復元事業に限界まで取り組んできた。1990年と1999年の暴風雨災害の後、プティ・パルクを1700年代の状態に復元することを決定した。「私たちが手本としたのは、ルイ14世です」と、宮殿、博物館、敷地を管理する公共機関の所長カテリーヌ・ペガール氏が話す。「私たちが目指しているのは、1704年にルイ14世が執筆したManière de Montrer les Jardins de Versailles(ヴェルサイユの庭園概説)に記載されている状態に庭園を復元することです。ただ、ところどころル・ノートルの足跡が失われている場所があります。たとえば、Water Theatre groveは、ルイ16世の時代に消失してしまいました。そのため、ルイ・ ベネッシュとジャン=ミシェル・オトニエルに新しいデザインを依頼しました。とは言え、2人は偉大なル・ノートルのデザインに従っています。

Published on 5 May 2015 by Château de Versailles


Since 2013 the Latona parterre, which is overlooked by the chateau, has looked as it did in 1700. The 19th-century lawns bordered by flower beds have been replaced by ornamental turf designs by Le Nôtre. If the Midi parterre is one day restored, it will be done in the same style. “At present it has flowers, which wasn’t the case with the original parterre,” says Daniel Sancho, head of heritage and gardens at Versailles. “In Louis XIV’s day there were some flowering shrubs, but above all box hedges and lawn, offset by different coloured gravel. If we do renovate it, we’ll do something like that.”


Work is also under way to restore the banks of the canal to their 17th-century state. The linden trees, which have been strictly pruned since the 1980s to form a screen, will be allowed to grow freely, as in the old days. Many of the large trees have been cut down since the storms 20 years ago, partly because they were fragile, but also because Le Nôtre pruned them. “To maintain the elegance of the garden, we’re working on a standard height of between 17 and 23 metres,” Sancho explains. “So we need to find species that don’t grow too high. In a formal French garden, trees are not meant to block the line of sight: they must not spoil the views designed by Le Nôtre.”


Versailles Garden

Versailles Garden

There are, however, drawbacks to restoring the gardens to their original state. Despite the “keyhole” rule, which gives the official architect a say on any projects within a 5km radius of the chateau, the landscape has inevitably changed. “There was no need for Le Nôtre to use tall trees as a screen to conceal the environs: on the contrary, he liked to create views of the surrounding countryside,” Sancho adds. “In 2014 the picture is obviously different. In some places you can see the RER [suburban train] line or the car pound. So in some cases the trees in the outer park shield us against visual pollution, which is handy.”


Image: versailles3d.com: plan of Versailles circa 1680, engraving by Israël Silvestre

To be contined


2014 (Google Map)