|A garden of fountains fit for a king.
a fountain discovered
There are more fountains than flowers in these gardens designed by the eminent landscape designer Andre Le Notre. Big lavish fountains in enormous pools, such as the Latona Fountain, the Apollo Fountain and the Neptune Fountain outspray each other with their sumptuous use of water along the broad avenues. But it is the hidden fountains amid the endless hedges that provide the most varied experiences.
For example, the fountains in the Colonnade Grove throw up identical streams of water around a circular room. The Encelade Fountain spews a roaring jet from his outstretched mouth. The cherub fountains along the Allee d'Eau pitter and patter cheerily. The Baths of Apollo display a sculpture group amid a grotto-like park setting. The Flora Fountain gurgles and spurts quietly, providing a restful note.
And there are more fountains and ponds yet to be explored of every shape, sound, and experience. Because water production has always been a big problem at Versailles, the fountains are only turned on at certain times (it's been said that when Louis XIV walked through the gardens, the fountains were turned on at his approach and turned off promptly at his departure.) The statues are wondrous on their own, but only truly come alive with water.
On designated musical days, Les Grandes Eaux Musicales, music of the 17th century composer Lully is piped in and accompanies the play of the water for an hour in the morning and and hour and a half in the afternoon. Strolling along the wide avenues and exploring the secret groves, I can almost imagine what it would have been like to have been a French noble making a promenade through the gardens with the King.
- Dorothy Gebert