In his book The Way to Present the Gardens of Versailles, Louis XIV guides us through the groves and basins of his palace. Six versions were drafted between 1689 and 1705, including some handwritten by the King himself.
More than a guidebook, it is an itinerary for a stroll through the gardens of the palace of Versailles that Louis XIV laid out in his The Way to Present the Gardens of Versailles in 1704.
However, historians continue to question the use of this “manual” which was not intended for publication. Was it prepared for official receptions? For fountain workers, so they knew which fountains to start up? For himself when, crippled by gout – an illness provoking intense joint paint – he had to be pushed around in an armchair on castors? The manuscripts were drafted rather late. Six different versions exist, spread out between 1689 and 1705, and are conserved at the National Library of France; some of them were handwritten by the King himself, others by one of his secretaries and simply corrected by him.
The itinerary varies little from one version to the other and covers approximately 4 to 8 km, depending on the destination. The route is longer for those who walk to the Menagerie or Trianon. Today, although the gardens have undergone some changes since their creation, once can still walk in the footsteps of the Sun King. “We’ll stop to see the Southern parterre, where from there, while moving towards the balustrade of the Orangerie, from where we can see the Orange Tree parterre, and the Latone of the Swiss.”, he noted.
Visitors can take the time to discover all the points of view offered by each of the following stops, some of which have remained famous: the Ornamental Pool (parterre d’eau), Orangery, the Latone basin, the Flora and Ceres basins…