Marie Antoinette Would Be Proud

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tags: France, historic preservation

VERSAILLES, France — In 1775, when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were living at the Palace of Versailles, its nearly 2,000 acres of gardens were open to the public, as they are today. So the queen wanted an area she could enjoy privately, with her children and friends.

In the last few years, the palace has called on skilled designers, historians, botanists and gardeners to apply their expertise to the complicated work of restoring that spot, called Le Bosquet de la Reine, or the Queen’s Grove.

It is an area of about four acres where Louis’s grandfather, Louis XIV, planted a labyrinth, or maze, in 1665-66. But by the young queen’s time, a maze was no longer “plus à la mode,” Jacques Moulin, the chief architect of historic monuments at Versailles, said in late February as he sat in his office overlooking the palace’s expansive forecourt. (On March 13 Versailles closed to visitors indefinitely as part of France’s efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.)

In the late 1700s, he said, “the garden had to be in the image of man: an educated, aristocratic man versus a peasant. Trees had to be straight” and linear designs were favored. The gardens were, after all, he said, “a symbol of royalty.”

Read entire article at New York Times

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