Buzz in France: The New Water Theatre Grove at Versailles

Versailles, Water Theatre Grove

This month marks a major event for the Chateau de Versailles. The Water Theater Grove—a garden stage which was originally built by André Le Nôtre for the Sun King’s concerts—has been given a new lease on life with a restoration by acclaimed French landscape designer Louis Benech. As The New York Times points out, this is the “first new permanent commission at the Château de Versailles since the era of Louis XVI.”

The site had fallen into disuse, and then was closed to the public in the 1990s after major storms wreaked havoc. In 2011, an international competition was launched for architects to restore the once-magical theatre. Winner Louis Benech has created a beautiful space, planted with perennials since the site will be open year-round. French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel designed three dazzling sculptures, made of Murano glass, to decorate the fountains. They are said to be inspired by the ballet performances hosted by King Louis XIV, and Raoul-Auger Feuillet’s book, l’Art de décrire la danse (1701).

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Booking tips for the Chateau de Versailles: We highly recommend booking tickets online in advance, and if you book a Guided Tour of the Private Apartments of the King, you can skip the lines.

Image of the sculpture via Othoniel studio; image of the chateau courtesy of Chateau de Versailles

Chateau de Versailles

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