The gardens to the west of the Palace of Versailles are unparalleled. On a simple walk, you can meditate in the embrace of 200,000 trees, admire the artistry of 221 sculptures and marvel at the spectacle of 55 fountains shooting water as high as seven meters into the air. But this tour is more than just a pleasant stroll. By the end of it, you’ll be looking at the park in a totally different way.
Our focus is on the hidden messages left by King Louis XIV. They’re lost to average visitors today, 300 years after their creation, but I’ll reveal them to you. The Sun King, as he was known, left absolutely nothing to chance in the gardens, and the details told a story that his subjects understood loud and clear. If you are intrigued by history, mythology, numerology, hydrography, meteorology or astronomy this is a tour for you!
On this tour you’ll discover:
• A man-made view stretching 14km into the distance
• Which mythological character Louis XIV thought he was
• Symbols to identify the seasons and the gods
• Jupiter coming to the aid of his mistress Latona and their demigod twins
• Tales of brave and eternal heroes like Perseus, Hercules, Achilles and more
• Who the city of Paris named for
• Lessons from the tragic demise of Fouquet, once France’s richest man
• The abduction of Proserpina and how this changed the weather
• How Louis XIV became the Sun King
• What book was brought to life in these gardens
This tour fully immerses you in the experience the Sun King had in mind when he planted these gardens, with a soundscape of background music, original performance and special effects. Voices of historical figures and statues are resurrected along with dramatic narration. Your guide’s humor, pop culture references and unique perspective make this tour enjoyable and thoughtful.
For the mythological characters mentioned in this tour, I use their Roman names, because that's how the French call them. Here are translations…
Roman - Greek - French names of mythological figures mentioned:
Achilles - Achilleus - Achille - The most famous Greek in the Trojan War, whose strength and bravery are unrivaled. Achilles is selfless, courageous, and devoted to the gods—he is the finest Greek warrior. His mother, the sea-nymph Thetis, has made him invulnerable everywhere except his heel, and that is where he is struck and killed.
Andromeda - Andromeda - Andromède - daughter of Casseopeia, rescued by Perseus.
Apollo - Appolo - Appolon - demigod, son of Jupiter (Zeus) and Latona, and Diana's twin, he is the god of Light and Truth, the master of Poetry and Music, and the god of Archery.
Aristaeus - Aristaios - Aristée - son of Apollo, he's a shepherd and beekeeper.
Bacchus - Dionysus - Bacchus - representing Fall, he's the god of wine. He embodies both the good and evil effects of alcohol. At times he is a jovial partier and patron of music and art, but at other times he is the god of madness and frenzy.
Ceres - Demeter - Ceres - representing Summer, Roman name: Ceres. Though a sister of Zeus, Demeter lives on earth. Demeter is the goddess of corn and harvest. She is kinder than Dionysus but also sadder, mostly because Hades has taken her daughter, Persephone, as his reluctant bride. Demeter thus lies in mourning for four months of the year, leaving the fields barren.
Cupid - Eros - Cupidon - son of Venus, a baby with wings who shoots arrows which make mortals fall in love.
dauphin - the next in line to become king
Diana - Artemis - Diane - demigoddess, daughter of Jupiter, and Apollo’s twin sister, Diana is the beautiful huntress
Enceladus - Enkélados - Encelade - giant who revolted against Jupiter.
Flora - Chloris - Flore - Goddess of flowers representing Spring.
Juno - Hera - Junon - wife and sister of Jupiter.
Hercules - Heracles - Hercule - son of Zeus who rises to Olympus at his death. Hercules is renowned for his incredible strength and bravery, but he lacks intelligence and self-control. Most of his adventures begin with a horrible mistake that he makes and then attempts to fix. His most famous feats, the Twelve Labors of Hercules, are the punishment he receives for murdering his family in a fit of madness.
Ino - Ino - Ino - queen of the seas, mother of Melicertes.
Jupiter - Zeus - Jupiter - king of the gods, father of Apollo and Diane, lover of Latona and quite a few others.
Latona - Leto - Latone - Mother of Apollo and Diane.
Melicertes - Palaemon - Melicerte - the "guardian of ships" and son of Ino.
Milo of Croton - Milonos of Croton - Milon de Crotone - the greatest athlete Greece knew during his time.
Minerva - Athena - Minèrve - goddess of war, and protector of arts she emerges from Jupiter's head fully-grown and armed. Associated with war, cleverness, and wit, it is no surprise that she favors Ulysses and supports all heros.
Neptune - Poseidon - Neptune - God of the Sea
Pandora - Pandora - Pandore - The most famously foolish woman of Greek myth. Married to Epimetheus, Prometheus’s simple-minded brother, she has been entrusted with a box that the gods have told her never to open. Pandora peeks inside the box, unleashing evil into the world. She manages to close the box just in time to save Hope, humankind’s only solace.
Paris - Son of the King of Troy, Paris unwittingly starts the Trojan War by judging Venus the fairest of all the goddesses. Venus arranges for Paris to marry the beautiful Helen of Troy, but Helen is already married. Helen’s kidnapping leads the Greeks to unite against Troy and sparks the decade-long Trojan War.
Perseus - Perseus - Persée - son of Jupiter and a heroic figure.
Pluto - Hades - Pluton - uncle of Proserpina, brother of Zeus and Poseidon, Pluto rules the underworld, the realm of the dead, with his wife, Proserpina
Proserpina - Persephone - Proserpine - daughter of Ceres, wife of Pluto
Salacia - Amphitrite - Amphitrite - wife of Neptune, goddess of salt, Queen of the Sea, Sea Life (fish, shellfish, sea-mammals)
Saturn - Cronus - Saturne - representing Winter, becomes the ruler of the Titans by overthrowing his father Ouranos. He swallows each of his children as his wife Rhea gives birth to them. Rhea is able to save one, Zeus, who forces Cronus to vomit up his siblings, with whom he defeats the Titans for control of the universe.
Sphinx - A beast with the head of a woman and the body of a winged lion. The Sphinx blocks entry to the city of Thebes, refusing to budge until someone answers her riddle and eating anyone who fails. When Oedipus solves the riddle, the Sphinx promptly kills herself.
Thetis - Thetys - Téthys - the titan god daughter of Earth and Sky.
Titans - The original gods, children of Heaven and Earth, and parents of the six original Olympians. Defeated by Zeus and his siblings in a war for control of the universe, most of the Titans are imprisoned in the bowels of the earth. Prometheus, who sides with Zeus, and his two brothers, Epimetheus and Atlas, are not imprisoned. Atlas is forced to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders forever.
Triton - Triton - Triton - Son of Neptune and Salacia whose numerous offspring are also called tritons, and resemble the male form of mermaids, or mermen.
Ulysses - Odysseus - Ulysse - the hero of Homer's Odyssey.
Venus - Aphrodite - Vénus - the sweet and delicate goddess of Love, Beauty, and Romance. Mother of Cupid.
Sound credits: voices: Joe Start; effects: freesfx.co.uk sound-fishing.net