The Potager du Roi was built for King Louis XIV, the magnificent ‘Sun King’, to provide fruit and vegetables for his table and to feed the court at Versailles. The nine hectare Potager is open to the public and is owned by the Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Paysage, a university specialising in Landscape Architecture. I visited at Halloween when the many espaliered fruit trees had already been harvested but there were ornamental gourds, late flowers, rich purple cabbages and plenty of autumn colour. Views from the garden are dominated by the imposing Cathédrale de St. Louis – God is looking on!
The artist Felice Varini was showing his work Des cercles, des toits, des façades. The work only lines up in perfect circles when one is standing at exactly the right viewing point (as I was here). From elsewhere they appear as disjointed arcs.
Update – September 2014 :
I’ve just been back to the Potager du Roi and it is in a terribly neglected state. The fruit trees are still looking good, but the potager squares are unplanted or full of weeds; it’s such a shame! There are even 2 metre high tree weeds. On the guided tour we were told there were 9 full-time gardeners here – but what are they doing?! Maybe we need the Americans to step in to restore it like they have the Orangerie next door.
Le Potager du Roi, 10 Rue du Maréchal Joffre, 78000 Versailles.
Versailles can be reached on the RER E from central Paris. The nearest station is Versailles Rive-Gauche-Chateau de Versailles and then there is a 5-10 minute walk to the Potager du Roi. Turn left out of the station following Ave. Gén du Gaulle, then turn right into rue du Général Leclerc, and then left into rue du Maréchal Joffre (It’s all very military!). Entry to the gardens was 4.50€ when I visited. Check the website before you go as opening days and times depend on the time of year. There are cafés and restaurants on the nearby pedestrianised Rue Satory. For picnics, there is an organic market in front of the Cathédral St. Louis on Saturday mornings.