A landscape architect and principal gardener of King Louis XIV of France, André Le Nôtre worked on many palaces and chateaux during the 17th century. His work constitutes formal gardens known as Jardin à la française.

His predecessors were in charge of the gardens in Palais De Tuileries, which sparked his interest in gardening. He studied at Palais Du Louvre, where he mastered classical art and perspectives. He also designed greenhouses known as orangeries. 

1. Vaux-le-Vicomte

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André Le Nôtre collaborated with Baroque architect Louis Le Vau and painter Charles Le Brun to design gardens in the baroque-style Château. It is situated in Maincy, southeast of Paris and built between 1658-1661. The gardens have a pronounced visual axis which was a characteristic of their collaboration, which marked the beginning of “Louis XIV style”. It complements the perfect symmetry of its elevation. He laid out gravel walks, pools and parterres, utilizing the changing levels of the site.

2. Château De Versailles

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Nôtre worked on the then hunting lodge, to enhance the present parks and gardens. Louis XIV then made the lodge his private residence and eventually his palace. Nôtre laid out the city plan of radiating nature, which includes the largest avenue of Europe, Avenue Du Paris. The Sun King, in his indecisiveness constantly destroying and recreating them to perfect them. Nôtre reached the pinnacle of French gardening, which were not dependent on shrubberies and flowerbeds. He contributed to creating vistas which reduced the impact of the vastness of the gardens.\

3.  Gardens of Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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A former royal Palace in the commune, the Château now serves as the National Museum of Archaeology in France. The gardens were one of the first to introduce the Italian garden style into French Châteauxes. They extended the central axis of the building with symmetrical axial designs of the parterres, basins and fountains, planted bosquets and gravel walks. The gardens were remade by Nôtre to overlook the Valley of Seine in 1669.

4. Gardens of Château de Saint-Cloud 

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Built on a site overlooking the Seine, the Château is about five kilometres, west of Paris. The Château was destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War, but the gardens remain. The gardens were first designed by Thomas Francine during the 17th century and later on by Israël Silvestre in Italian fashion with frescoed facades and a flat roof with terraced gardens. Today the park contains Nôtre’s French garden with Marie Antoinette’s rose garden and an English garden.

5. Gardens of Palais des Tuileries

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The Palace was built in 1564 and extended till the Louvre until it was burned down by the Paris Commune in 1861. It was initially designed as an Italian Renaissance garden but was redesigned by Nôtre in 1664 as a French formal garden, emphasizing long perspectives, order and symmetry. He designed them to be witnessed from above. He built a terrace looking over the flowerbeds and built alleys lined with chestnut trees.

6. Gardens of Château de Sceaux

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A grand country house, about six miles from the centre of Paris, it operates as a museum of local history. It was built by Claude and Charles Perrault in the 15th century. Nôtre placed the principal axis, with the centre at the Château.

7. Gardens of Château de Fontainebleau

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Similar to the Château, there were many iterations in the garden, including the rework by Nôtre. Adorned by beautiful statues, it consists of an artificial grotto and boxwood hedges. A round ornamental lake is present which faces the forest. Each King took up the residence during the peak hunting months. Apart from the principal parterre, there is another garden called Garden of Diana. The feminine garden has meandering paths in contrast to the formal gardens.

8. Gardens of Château de Chantilly

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This historic Château stands in the town of Chantilly, Oise, north of Paris. The Château now serves as Musée Condé, which houses book illuminations and paintings of the 15th and 16th century. The principal formal garden consists of spacious parterres and water features, laid out for the Grand Condé. The park also contains a French landscape garden along with cascades, pavilions and a rustic village. The vast estate looks over the Chantilly racecourse.

9. Greenwich Park, London

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A medieval hunting park before the 1660s, Greenwich park was revamped by Nôtre into a formal garden. It is also the oldest of London’s royal gardens. The development consisted of a parterre overlooked by a series of grass terraces lined with pine trees. It is an excellent example of applying symmetrical landscape design on irregular terrain.

10. Gardens of Château De Bercy

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Architect François Le Vau was the architect of the château, but the construction was left incomplete. Successors completed the estate by adding additional features like moats. The gardens designed by Nôtre extended to the river Seine also known as Parc De Bercy. The park has an expansive green lawn, parterres which are themed gardens and some romantic gardens with water features.

Author

Asmita Kothari is currently pursuing B.Arch at the School of Architecture, VIT University. She is an avid reader and a movie buff, who loves watching architectural and travel documentaries and shows. She believes that ambitious and curious souls make the world a better place.

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