Restoration of the grove of Apollo’s Bath
This grove replaced the famous Labyrinth that illustrated at its crossroads thirty-nine fables of Aesop with lead animals in fountains painted in natural colours. Built in 1669 after an idea of the tale-teller Charles Perrault, it was destroyed during the replanting of the gardens in 1775-1776, and replaced by the Queen’s Grove. The present sculpted decor was installed in the late 19th century.
Laid out by André Le Nôtre between 1680 and 1683, the open-air Cascade Ballroom is also called the Rocaille Grove, because of the millstones and the sea shells brought back from the coasts of Africa and Madagascar over which the water pours down in a cascade. The marble “island” in the centre, easily accessible, was used for dancing, an art in which Louis XIV excelled. The musicians played above the cascade and, facing them, an amphitheatre with grassy rows of seats enabled the spectators to sit down.
The Girandole Grove, a pendant to the Dauphin’s Grove, replaced old quincunxes in the south planted in the reign of Louis XVI. It has changed very little since it was installed, and is decorated with sculptures on tapering plinths commissioned by the Superintendent of Finance, Nicolas Fouquet, for his château in Vaux-le-Vicomte and executed in Rome based on models by Poussin.
The Mirror Fountain was located at the extremity of a large ornamental lake called Cupid’s Island or the Royal Island (1674) on which were tested scale models of warships. Completely neglected during the Revolutionary years, it was redesigned on the order of Louis XVIII in 1817, when the architect Dufour laid out the King’s Garden, an enclosed garden laid out in the English style, planted with superb tree species most of which, unfortunately, were blown down in the great storm of 1999. All that remains today is the original layout of the Mirror fountain.
Organised between 1680 and 1683, the grove called the Chestnuts Room was then called the Gallery of Antiques or Water Gallery, and had a central path lined with orange trees, yews, ponds and water jets. Along this path there used to be a line of eighty antique statues. Entirely redesigned in 1704, the grove became the Chestnuts Room, adorned with eight antique busts and two statues.
Build from 1685 on by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the Colonnade replaced a grove designed by Le Nôtre in 1679: the Springs Grove. A peristyle accompanies the 32 marble columns. The triangular tympani between the arcades are decorated with low relief carvings depicting children. The arch stones are adorned with heads of nymphs and naiads. The famous group in the centre on a circular marble base was executed between 1678 and 1699 by Girardon: Proserpine Ravished by Pluto.
Very frequently redesigned, this grove changed its name with each new modification of its decor. Designed by Le Nôtre in 1675, it was then the Grove of Fame, in 1677-1678, owing to the statue of Fame in the centre of the fountain and which spouted a jet of water from its trumpet. Between 1684 and 1704, the groups from Apollo’s Baths were placed here, giving it its new name in this period: the Grove of Apollo’s Baths. But in 1677, Jules Hardouin-Mansart built two pavilions of white marble surmounted by domes, giving it is present name, although the two buildings were destroyed in 1820.
The Encelade Fountain was sculpted in lead by Gaspard Marsy between 1675 and 1677. The subject is taken from the myth of the fall of the Titans who were buried under the rocks of Mount Olympus which they tried to climb in defiance of the prohibition of Jupiter. The sculptor has depicted a giant half buried under the rocks and in the throes of death.