Make a right here, then hug the left bannister.
On your left, below you, is the vast Orange Grove. You may walk to your right along the barrier as I speak. All trees here are exposed in planter boxes from April to November. They are brought inside during the Winter in a cavernous storage area beneath your feet. Beyond the Grove is the Lake of the Swiss Guards and beyond that is a statue of Louis XIV on horseback. It was the king's least-favorite likeness of himself, and he compromised to have it placed almost out-of-sight.
Similarly, we will uncover the hidden and the unknown on this tour, whether or not the tales are flattering to the Sun King. My aim is that you learn some things which don't appear in the official history that the curators and royalists promote.
The tales of these gardens show Louis XIV using mythology and numerology to send messages of warning, power and self-glorification. Allusions to ancient pagan stories were a safe and clever way to communicate without causing affront to the Catholic church, unthreatened by a long-expired belief system.
To whom was the king sending messages? Well, everybody, including his subjects, foreign dignitaries and visitors, but mostly his court and the nobles who were now forced to live most of their time in proximity to Louis XIV. 'Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer' could have been his maxim. He took a small village of 1000 souls and crowned it the capital, with lodgings for 35000 aristocrats from all corners of the hexagon. Instead of potentially plotting overthrow from their country estates, they lived practically year-round in a den of the king's spies.
Continue walking, keeping the Orange Grove on your left. We will be making a right after the steps.