LE BOSQUET DE LA REINE
The Queen's Grove
Together, let us bring the Queen’s Grove, Le Bosquet de la Reine, back to life. It deteriorated greatly during the 19th and 20th centuries, and today is merely a shadow of what it once was.
With its prominent location at Versailles, this grove replaced the famous Labyrinth Grove originally created in 1665-1666 and enhanced in 1677 with thirty-nine, painted lead fountains featuring enchanting animals from Aesop's fables. This incredible maze wonder was torn down during the replanting of the Palace gardens in 1775-1776 and changed to the current grove, initially called the Grove of Venus and then the Queen’s Grove, reserved for Marie-Antoinette, pictured here.
This ornamental garden, extending the Orangery Parterre, was made especially for the Queen so that she could have somewhere to walk that was away from the many visitors. Its composition reflects the taste of the period for landscaped gardens, combining the precision of the French formal layout which was so popular at the French Court, and the twists and turns of the paths inspired by new English designs. In 1784, it was the backdrop for the infamous night-time meeting between Cardinal Rohan and an imposter posing as Marie-Antoinette, the key episode in the affair of the Diamond Necklace.
Her new garden paths, simple but elegant, were designed to showcase, in the grove’s center, her favorite tree, which she also had planted in her gardens at Trianon, the fragrant Virginia tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
It’s native to the southern and eastern regions of the United States. Introduced into France at the beginning of the 18th century, this majestic tree can live for up to 500 years and usually grows to a height of 40 to 60 metres. It is distinct for its heavily perfumed tulip-shaped flowers and broad leaves which turn red and gold in autumn. Today’s sculptural decoration was added in the late nineteenth century.
The Virginia tulip trees were arranged in a regular pattern in the central section, designed like a proper room of greenery. Around the central part, the surrounding vegetation was composed of a variety of species of trees and shrubs, which flowered at different times and successively. Four main paths leading into the Grove provided for flowery strolls in the shade while smaller winding paths led to small rooms of greenery garnished with wooden benches.
Restoration work will return its rich variety of plant life, just as it was when the Queen knew it. The central square will be replanted with 168 Virginia tulip trees, the small rooms of greenery and entrance paths will once again be planted with trees and flower shrubs.
Please join the American Friends of Versailles in helping to restore the graceful Queen’s Grove to its former beauty for millions of present-day visitors to enjoy, as well as for many generations to come. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.