Arts & Entertainment

Marie Antoinette’s Versailles grove returns to original likeness

By Martí Rodríguez

Versailles, France, Jun 5 (EFE).- The Palace of Versailles has restored Marie Antoinette’s Queen’s Grove to its original likeness.

The wife of Louis XVI oversaw the design of the garden in the late 1770s and would wander through its paths to escape the many visitors at the royal palace.

Six thousand flowering shrubs, 600 trees, 38 variations of roses and 148 tulip plants from Virginia in the United States have breathed fresh life into the section of the Versailles gardens after years of neglect.

“This process of restoration required eight years of research to learn how the original garden was, and two years of reforms to make the necessary changes,” Veronique Ciampini, conservationist at the Palace of Versailles, tells Efe.

“The species planted have changed over the years, but we have kept the plans from the period, which tell us the arrangement of the vegetation and the notes from the gardeners, who always recorded what they planted.”

Some of the original plants from the 18th century are still standing, while other species no longer exist or would not survive in the current climate, Ciampini explains.

France’s most famous queen consort, the Austrian-born Marie Antoinette rose to power through her marriage to Louis XVI in 1770 and enjoyed life in Versailles.

In 1774, she ordered an overhaul of the palace grounds. She asked the architect  Michel-Barthélemy Hazon to create what came to be known as the Queen’s Grove, a place where she could spend some time with her thoughts.

The structure of the grove has been returned to its original layout — a rectangle lined by leafy bushes that separate it from the rest of the garden. It is divided by four diagonal avenues in the form of wide lanes that lead to a central esplanade.

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