Potager du Roi, the kitchen garden of the Palace of Versailles, has had a long history as a place of horticultural instruction and innovation. The garden was created by Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, an expert gardener and agronomist, and French architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart during 1678-99, to fulfil King Louis XIV’s vision of creating the most impressive palace in the world.
In 1768, Louis XIV who wanted fresh fruit and vegetables on his table each day asked Jean-Baptiste to create an orchard and vegetable garden on unwelcoming marshlands. This magnificent garden which took five years to create is still very prolific today and offers a superb opportunity during your visit to Versailles to discover rare and forgotten varieties of apples, pears and delicate pruning techniques of the past . The Potager is just over 23 acres with 28 small gardens on the periphery and a Grand Carré, made up of 16 square vegetable gardens surrounding a central fountain.
For over 300 years, the Potager du Roi has been cultivated, introducing new microclimates and methods for producing fruits and vegetables in and out of season. Additionally, it maintains a tradition of education. Since 1995, the garden has housed and has been under the stewardship of the École Nationale Supérieure de Paysage (French National Landscape Architecture School). There are over 450 varieties of fruit trees and, depending on the year, between 300 and 450 vegetable varieties are cultivated. Every year approximately 40 tons of fruits and vegetables are produced, a labor-intensive process of planting, pruning, and harvesting that is carried out by a small group of people and with limited resources.
Despite being open to the public daily, the gardens cannot be visited under the same ticket as the palace and the rest of the gardens since Potager du Roi is not under the management of the Palace of Versailles. A process of identifying and engaging stakeholders to plan for the future of the site is currently underway and aims to address a number of challenges, including damaged and outdated drainage systems, greenhouses, supporting structures, and amenities for visitors.
The need to select and cultivate species that can grow without pesticides and are adaptable to climate change means that approximately 40% of existing fruit trees (already in poor condition) need to be replaced. Inclusion of Potager du Roi on the 2018 World Monuments Watch hopes to help mobilize local and international stakeholders to embrace and become part of a new vision for the site.
The Potager du Roi’s expert gardeners have undertaken to preserve old pruning and tree training techniques, with the aim to carry on developing even more growing techniques commonly used in the past. Presently, the splendid orchard boasts 60 different shapes of fruit trees. All fruit trees and vegetables collections are constituted through regular and ongoing acquisitions from nurseries, and thanks to gifts from generous donors.
We offer a variety of cosmetic products with ingredients that are cultivated and harvested in this special garden and are available for purchase now at TEBEP.COM