Louis XIV, the Sun King, was not satisfied with ruling over the French people, or building the most magnificent palace in the world; at Versailles he was also determined to have mastery over water.
In 1666, building a fountain was not as easy as laying some pipes and turning on the tap – water was a scarce commodity in rural France and massive and expensive construction works were required to fulfill Louis’ dream of dancing water.
There are over 30 fountains at Versailles, the most famous being the Apollo fountain, with its horses pulling the god’s chariot, and the Neptune fountain featuring the god of the oceans with his wife, some dragons and a smattering of sea life. Neptune took over a century to complete and was therefore officially opened by the next generation, King Louis XV. Other fountains represent the four seasons: Saturn for winter, Flora for spring, Ceres for summer, and Bacchus for autumn.
During the weekends from April to October, the fountains run in full play to musical accompaniment. This Grandes Eaux fulfills Louis XIV’s ambitious dream of water at play, leading you through the expansive gardens and amazing you with the height of the jets and visionary scale of the themed fountains.
In July and August this water show also runs in the evenings with the fountains spectacularly lit. There are eight paths you can follow for different musical and visual experiences. The Sun King may finally have been satisfied.