LE BOSQUET DES TROIS FONTAINES
Grove of Three Fountains
This magnificent grove of three fountains was created by André Le Nôtre between 1677 and 1679, pictured here. He is perhaps the most outstanding garden architect of all time. He created what is known today as “Le Jardin à la Française”. Before working at Versailles, he designed the marvelous gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte and worked at many other extraordinary châteaux in France.
Le Bosquet des Trois Fontaines is the only bosquet (of fifteen) at Versailles to be mentioned in an original document “as of the King’s design”. Louis XIV’s love of nature was, indeed, consistent with the harmonious decoration of this unique bosquet. It was designed without any sculpture and composed of sky, water and greenery. It is the purest of garden, masterly using the elements of nature.
Three basins, different in shape, size and water effect were laid out in three successive terraces and levels. A series of rock work (rocaille) cascades set in stepped lawns connected three pools. The uppermost and smallest basin was a round pool decorated with a fountain and 140 jets.
The central basin, larger and square, had a jet in each corner and six jets on each side, which intermingled to create a water vault.
The lower basin, large and octagonal shape, framed a central fountain of rockwork from which spouted a fleur-de-lis motif (the royal emblem), itself surrounded by a trellised palisade, which was doubled by an arbor that formed niches at its extremities. At the foot of each niche, two grass filled terraces, planted with trees, tapered the sharp points.
The lack of maintenance after Louis XIV’s death led to a progressive disappearance of the pools and cascades. In the early 19th century, only an abandoned clearing remained in the weeded grove.
The archeological dig of the restoration site revealed surprising vestiges of the original structure, such as a ramp to facilitate access for Louis XIV’s visits in a wheelchair at the end of his reign.
The actual reconstruction began in 2002 with numerous architects, hydraulic and fountain technicians, plumbers, carpenters, gardeners, and various specialized artisans joining their skills. This exceptional restoration was completed in 2004 with the help of the American Friends of Versailles.
Millions of annual visitors are now able to enjoy Louis XIV’s favorite bosquet, in its original splendor.