Walk up to the circular fountain ahead. This is the first of four fountains representing the seasons. Can you guess which season this one shows?
The lady before you is Cérès, goddess of the harvest, agriculture and fertility. She's essentially 'Mother Nature.' She gave birth to Proserpina, who we'll meet later.
Here, she's leaning back, looking skyward, where the sun appears at high noon in her season. About her, cherubs crawl lethargically among the wheat, and one shields his face from the scorching rays. If you guessed she represents Summer, you're right. Keep that in mind as we visit the three other seasons on our tour. All seasonal fountains have been recently restored and colored in stunning fashion, looking better than they ever have.
To go to our next location, turn your back on Ceres, leaving the wood of Apollo's baths on your left, and walk straight ahead on the Allée de Cérès, as I tell you another thing about Louis XIV.
He was a vigorous outdoorsman, enjoying nature throughout the year in all seasons and all weather. These grounds were a smaller hunting lodge in Louis XIII's time, which his son visited often on foot or horseback, ruminating on how to transform it into the most spectacular palace of Europe. Believe it or not, at the time of the monarchy, the gardens were accessible to all, without any fences or gates.
Keep going and take a left up ahead at the end of the hedgerow. As you do, look left and you'll see a statue of Cérès.