Versailles: Enjoy King Louis XVI’s Garden & Park

Bonsoir, le roi soleil.

Versailles
PHOTO Sarah Cho

One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Château de Versailles is part of the most beautiful remnants of 18th century French art. As with the name and prestige of being one of the most beautiful palaces in France, there is always a long line of tourists waiting to get into the palace. Golden gate around the palace, beautiful artworks, and lavish Hall of Mirrors are definitely worth the wait in line. They show elaborate pieces of art that the French enjoyed during King Louis XVI’s era. However, what I most enjoyed at Château de Versailles were the Garden and the Park.

Beyond the château, the park seems to expand forever into the horizon. I was in awe of the garden and the park and its harmony with a beautiful sky because I had never seen anything like it. One aspect that I was impressed with was the shape of the trees and the garden itself. The types of gardens that I was used to were focused on maximizing nature itself and the natural beauty that living plants offer. Beauty of the natural shape of trees, leaves and flowers were the main focus of many gardens that I had seen. However, the garden at Versailles Palace was strikingly different in that the theme seemed to be to tame the nature. Tree leaves were cut to achieve a clean-cut line that accentuates a long line of the park.

Versailles
PHOTO Sarah Cho

This led me to think about the purpose of the garden and changed my perception of garden as an art. Before seeing Versailles Park, I considered gardens as simply a place to enjoy nature and to surround myself with peace of mind. As Versailles Park accentuated the power of humans by manipulating and controlling nature and promoted what seems like a perpetual vast size of the park, I had observed what could be the hidden meaning and purpose of the park. As the absolute monarchy, the royal family must have used this park to symbolize the all-powerful capacity of the king. The taming of nature could extend to symbolize the power of the king in ruling over the public. Also, the placing of the water and the road alongside trees seemed to be in a straight line, to elongate the park that accentuated perpetual rule of the king.

These observations had never struck me before. Surrounded by nature and beautiful skies, I had come to realize that none of the aspects in the park was hastily chosen or made. This was a turning point for me, to observe what was around me not by simply looking at it. But rather, look for how it related to me and to what I thought about. Frankly, the beautiful scenery had definitely contributed to a fresh mind of thinking. It is no surprise that France produced many great thinkers and philosophers; no one could possibly blankly gaze into the sky and not have an epiphany.

Article written by Sarah Cho.

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