The Gardens of Versailles with Marie Dessaillen

The Gardens of Versailles with Marie Dessaillen


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Ordering the construction of a 2,000 acre garden to woo his beloved Louise de La Vallière might seem a bit over the top. But that was Louis XIV, the Sun King, Louis the Great. He used art and distractions to showcase his glory and consolidate his absolutist power, and the gardens of Versailles exemplify that to perfection. He created a fairytale garden from an unsanitary swamp and former hunting lodge of his father. Versailles garden was the house of gods and goddesses, and its castle became the capital of France from 1682 to 1789.

This Conversation will explore the history of this masterpiece by André Le Notre. We’ll discuss everything from the technical difficulties in shaping the ground symetrically to transporting (and pressurizing) the water for the 55 fountains. We’ll learn about the architect of the castle, Louis Le Vau, and the optical illusions he created. We will also explore the iconography of the statues to understand the not-so-hidden meaning of Versailles: a French garden charged with political discourse.

Versailles was the gilded cage of an aristocracy prone to rebel: the gardens provided entertainment, parties, firework displays, as well as a way for this iron-willed king to control his possible enemies. European kings and princes tried their best to emulate this model, yet never quite succeeded. We’ll discuss examples beyond the gates of the "little" park as we tantalize over a series of palaces with their gardens, some in the French style, some in the English manner, with the gem that is the charming hamlet of Queen Marie-Antoinette.

Led by an expert on XVIIth century French history and art history, Marie Dessaillen, this interactive seminar will deepen our understanding of the wonders of a garden that never fails to impress its 8 million yearly visitors. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of aristocratic French society in the XVIIth century. We’ll also learn how this garden was filled with a deep meaning and intention at the time of its creation.

The daughter of a sculptor, Marie has been surrounded by art ever since she was born. A native Parisienne, she holds an undergraduate degree in history and art history, with a specialty in iconography and French and Flemish paintings from the 16th to the 18th centuries. She also holds a Master's degree in museology from the Ecole du Louvre and one in Art History from the Sorbonne.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 22 reviews
95%
(21)
5%
(1)
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C
Catherine (Boulder, US)
Tons of information

Marie is incredibly knowledgeable about the gardens and their history. I had no idea that the garden complex was so large. I liked the way she intertwined the gardens, the castle and the culture of the times.

N
Nancy (Victoria, CA)
Stellar

It was such a thrill to learn so much about The Gardens of Versailles. Marie is such a knowledgeable expert.

L
Linda (Edmonton, CA)
Very informative and interesting!

The presentation was well done!

P
Peg (New York, US)

This tour exemplifies Marie’s scrupulous preparation and research and engaging presentation style. I’d love to visit Versailles with her!

Reviewer avatar
Beth Ann from Michigan (Plymouth, US)
Marie Dessaillen is an excellent virtual tour guide and professor, no matter the topic.

Marie Dessaillen does a wonderful job of unfolding the history of the Gardens of Versailles complemented with photos of the gardens from today. I have been to Versailles but by the time we got out of the palace there was only a couple of hours to try to experience the gardens. Marie helped make up for the lack of time we had that day. Using a combination of historical maps, photos and videos, Marie really brought the experience to life. It was an EXCELLENT virtual tour. I hope to go back one day and especially now with the insight of how they were built, what optical illusions I should look for, and for which of Louie's mistresses the smaller additions were built for.

Customer Reviews

Based on 22 reviews
95%
(21)
5%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
C
Catherine (Boulder, US)
Tons of information

Marie is incredibly knowledgeable about the gardens and their history. I had no idea that the garden complex was so large. I liked the way she intertwined the gardens, the castle and the culture of the times.

N
Nancy (Victoria, CA)
Stellar

It was such a thrill to learn so much about The Gardens of Versailles. Marie is such a knowledgeable expert.

L
Linda (Edmonton, CA)
Very informative and interesting!

The presentation was well done!

P
Peg (New York, US)

This tour exemplifies Marie’s scrupulous preparation and research and engaging presentation style. I’d love to visit Versailles with her!

Reviewer avatar
Beth Ann from Michigan (Plymouth, US)
Marie Dessaillen is an excellent virtual tour guide and professor, no matter the topic.

Marie Dessaillen does a wonderful job of unfolding the history of the Gardens of Versailles complemented with photos of the gardens from today. I have been to Versailles but by the time we got out of the palace there was only a couple of hours to try to experience the gardens. Marie helped make up for the lack of time we had that day. Using a combination of historical maps, photos and videos, Marie really brought the experience to life. It was an EXCELLENT virtual tour. I hope to go back one day and especially now with the insight of how they were built, what optical illusions I should look for, and for which of Louie's mistresses the smaller additions were built for.