We returned to Versailles to see the afternoon fountain display. they have scheduled it between 3:30 and 5 PM this summer. That is not a lot of time to see much of the gardens, but I thought I would present the pictures I got. The Ballroom (Bosquet Salle de Bal or Bosquet des Rocailles) was created by Le Nôtre between 1680 and 1683. The grove was the last made before the installation of Louis XIV at Versailles. The Salle de Bal was inaugurated in 1685 with a ball hosted by the Grand Dauphin. The Ballroom is also called Seed Grove because the stones and shells came from the Madagascar coast over which water flows in the cascade. The musicians stood above the waterfall, across a tiered amphitheater with grass covered steps allowing spectators to sit.
Although the fountains were not on the day we visited the gardens, the gardens were nonetheless beautiful and vast. It is a little hard to depict the sheer size of the gardens in photographs, but I will try. The gardens extend as far as you can see. In the center of the picture above, far in the distance, is the Grand canal, with even more gardens beyond. This is the Latone fountain. The large central strip of grass is called the Tapis Vert. The gardens were laid out by André Le Nôtre but he had the assistance of hundreds of artists and thousands of men and horses. A few statistics to begin with:
Number of trees: 200,000
Flowers planted annually: 210,00
Number of fountains: 50
Number of jets of water: 620
Surface area of the Grand Canal: 56 acres or 36,339 sq ft
Perimeter of the Grand Canal: 5.57 km
Amount of piping to feed the fountains: 35 km
It was completed over a period of 20 years
It covers an area larger than the island of Manhattan
The garden beds on the level of the palace are beautiful and formal. I can only imagine the work and money required to keep them this way.