A visit to Versailles is a fairytale experience for all entering through the golden gates, with the opulence of its palace and equally luxurious gardens designed by Andre Le Nôtre, with its intricate patterns, waterfalls, and majestic fountains. Today, the Grand Canal provides the water necessary to keep the fountains flowing as much as the wine overflowed daily in Louis XIV’s court. To observe these hydraulic masterpieces located throughout Versailles’ palatial grounds, visitors can enter the royal estate on Tuesday - Sunday from 9:00 am - 6:30 pm at the price of 30 USD. To see some of the remaining 2,400 hand constructed fountains commissioned by Louis XIV, please check out the following article on the best fountains in Versailles, France, below.
1. Four Season Fountains
At the foot of Latona’s Parterre and the entrance to the Great Lawn or Royal Way is where visitors can admire the spectacular four seasons fountains. Bacchas, the god of the wine harvest, can be seen indulging in a cup of wine representing the Autumn fountain (#31 on the map). While the Spring fountain (#34) is represented by the goddess Flora who can be seen protecting the delicate floral arrangement alongside three cherubs taking from mythology that she was the goddess of flowering plants and the spring. The Summer Fountain (#36), is represented by Ceres, goddess of the harvest and motherly love is seen sitting on a bed of cornstalks and roses while her children play under her watchful care. The last of the stunning Four Seasons Fountains is the Winter Fountain represented by Saturn (#30 on the map), later thought of as Father Time, hence the older appearance, who appears alongside four cherubs being surrounded by seashells and squid.
2. Neptune Fountain
The Neptune fountain is an impressive feat of hydraulic engineering with 99-water jets and stunning life-like creations by Ange-Jaques Gabriel. Amphitrite can be seen ruling over the sea alongside her powerful husband Neptune with a trident in hand. Proteus can be seen shepherding the surrounding marine life. Oceanus, resembling a merman with his scaly fish-tail, can be seen sitting at Neptune’s left hand as he co-rules over the earth’s oceans. The fountain was constructed between 1679 and 1682 and overseen by Andre Le Nôtre who had a major influence on Versailles’ gardens under Louis XIV, whose vision of grandeur for this fountain was fulfilled later on by Louis XV.
3. Apollo's Fountain
Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, was inspired by his icon Apollo to commission Charles Le Brun to design this majestic fountain of the Sun God bursting from the water while championing his golden chariot on his daily flight to earth. As he makes his descent to earth, Apollo’s messenger can be seen blowing a horn to herald the god’s arrival to perform his daily duties towards his earthly subjects. Apollo was known as the God of music, poetry, arts, prophecy, archery, protector of herds and flocks from diseases, light, sun, knowledge and protector of the young. As depicted in this magnificent fountain, the King of France was inspired to create Versailles to be a place of beauty, filled with culture, music, and enlightenment during his reign, and these fountains he had designed throughout the grounds were used to attest to his kingly power.
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4. Fountains of the Fight of the Animals
In the 'Fountain of the Fight of the Animals' by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the sculpture at the left shows a lion bringing...Posted by Gexter Lacambra on Sunday, 20 August 2017
Jules Hardouin-Mansart was inspired by Diana, the goddess of the hunt, when he created the Night or Diana Fountain which features a lion ferociously bringing down a wolf and a lion defeating a wild boar. The Dawn or Daybreak fountain features a tiger conquering a bear while a bloodhound can be seen taking down a mighty stag. These violent realistic depictions of powerful beasts conquering other beasts easily represented the strength of France’s army as its unprecedented dominance was felt across Europe under Louis XIV’s direction during his reign.
5. Dragon Fountain
Inspired by Greek mythology, young Apollo can be seen in the background with his bow in hand while the dragon can be seen in the forefront reeling in agony on the way to its death, by means of the young god’s arrow. Surrounded by dolphins armed with bows and arrows and swans, the winged dragon meets its defeat and slips slowly into the pool while conquering Apollo looks on. The Dragon Fountain is one of 50 remaining fountains of the original 2,400 fountains that Louis XIV had constructed, to impress upon visitors his ability to control nature which was indicated by the thousands of meters of water that he had pumped in from a reservoir above the Seine daily, which was a major engineering accomplishment in 1685.
6. Lantona's Fountain
Lantona’s fountain is a stunning marble creation that is found at the top of the luxurious gardens while looking protectively over the Grand Canal and the acres of lush greenery and beautiful intricate designs of flora by Le Nôtre throughout the regal UNESCO World Heritage site. The Metamorphoses by Ovide inspired the design where onlookers can see Latona protecting her children from the taunting insults of the Lycians as Jupiter turns the citizens into golden frogs and lizards. To watch the fountain in all its glory with arches of water coming forth from the frogs and lizards while Latona and her children sit on the top marble tier, visitors to Versailles have the option to purchase a Musical Fountain show ticket for during the day or evening during the summer months.
7. Water Theatre Grove
The Water Theatre Grove was originally designed by Francois and Pierre Francine in 1674 to be featured as an open-air theatre where spectators could witness many combinations of waters shows, including the technical prowess to create forms out of the water which was an amazing feat for the times. In 2015, Lois Benech and Jean-Michel Othoniel created the current fountains where visitors can witness amazing hydraulic features as the water shoots skyward throughout immaculate gold piping and then cascades down into the pool. To watch a stunning performance of the fountain’s capabilities, visitors can purchase tickets to see Musical Fountain evening shows during the summer months with fireworks and color infused into the water to make for a memorable experience to Versailles.
8. Pyramid Fountain
Versailles’ Pyramid Fountain consists of four bowls being held in place by powerful tritons. During the fountain show complete with baroque music accompaniment, the water flows from the top, downward over the heads of the dolphins, crayfish, children, and tritons. The Pyramid Fountain was constructed in 1889 and it is surrounded by spacious alleys leading to the France Victorious and the Three Fountains groves.
9. Mirror Pool
Le Nôtre designed the Mirror Pool to complement the large Royal Isle Fountain referred to as the King’s Grove. The designer used the difference in the ground level to develop the Royal Isle Fountain below the Mirror Pool by positioning a retaining wall between them in a series of cascading architectural features. Today, visitors to Versailles can enjoy the beautiful fountains during the Musical Fountain shows in the gardens throughout April - October, when they can be witnessed dancing in harmony to classical music.
Bienvenue à Versailles (Welcome to Versailles)
Visitors have the privilege of being able to step back in time to a fairytale world when France was enjoying unprecedented prosperity under Louis XIV when passing through the golden gates of Versailles which documentaries can never match the real-life experience. They can enjoy traveling back in time to a world of high culture, unmatched luxury, and stunning artistry in the creation of the stunning gardens and fountains that encompass the acres of land that Versailles was built upon. Make certain to purchase the Passport as it allows a visit to the chateau, the immaculate gardens with stunning fountain shows during the day, and the Trianons, which is where Marie Antoinette resided with her beautiful fuschia brocade furnished bedroom and stunning pink princess bed with gold encrusted headboard and ostrich feathers. After a long day exploring Versailles, hopefully, without getting stuck in the Grand Canal in a rowboat, make certain to get a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice produced from the orange groves, before departing the regal domain of the Sun King.
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