I am a sucker for a tender love story, but perhaps I enjoyed Kate Winslet’s latest movie, Les Jardins du Roi, even more because I have been to the “outdoor ballroom” her character, Madame Barra, is responsible for constructing at Versailles.
John and I made a return visit to the king’s gardens at Versaille today and we weren’t disappointed. The Bosquet de la Salle de Bal is as spectacular as I remembered.
Andrés Le Nôtre, played with wonderful subtlety by Matthias Schoenaerts in the movie, is the design genius behind the gardens and park at Versailles — and Kate’s love-interest in the film. Here’s more of his work.
On my previous visits to Versailles, I have spent my time touring the palace, the Petit and Grand Trianons and exploring Marie Antoinette’s playground. But today, we rented bicycles and pedaled into previously unexplored areas of the park.
For a moment, you forget that you’re less than an hour from Paris. It feels like you’re in the French countryside.
While the entrance gate to Versailles is as grand as you’d expect, the gates in the rear of the palace grounds are much more functional. Backdoors are intriguing.
Pedal long enough and you find yourself back to the sculpted, fountain-rich gardens. Too many fountains to name among Le Nôtre’s grand design, but my favorite is of Apollo riding up out of the water.
Versailles came to be because Louis XIV decided to make a palace out of what was once a hunting lodge. When enjoying his home on a warm, spring day, you’re awfully glad he did, but even happier that today, unlike during his reign, anyone who wishes to see the king’s garden can.