Potager du roi: King Louis XIV’s fruit and vegetable garden
Just a few steps from the Palace of Versailles, near the Versailles gardens, Louis XIV’s vegetable garden called the “Potager du Roi” is open to visitors throughout the year and offers a fascinating insight into 17th century fruit and vegetable production. Techniques from a bygone era are explored and an array of rare and forgotten fruit and vegetable varieties are available to curious travellers keen on gardens and gardening techniques.
Potager du Roi at Versailles
Potager du roi: La Quintinie gardener
In 1768, Louis XIV who wanted fresh fruit and vegetables on his table each day asked Jean-Baptiste La Quintinie, expert gardener and agronomist at the time, to create an orchard and vegetable garden on unwelcoming marshlands.
The prodigious task accomplished by La Quintinie was gratefully acknowledged by his majesty who took pleasure in visiting regularly his own vegetable garden. Louis XIV would walk down the “100 steps” that run along the Orangery (also created by La Quintinie) reach the King’s Gate, then walk along an alleyway flanked by sixteen pear trees to arrive on the terrace bordering the western side of the Potager du Roi. There he would see thirty or more gardeners busy tending to the numerous varieties of fruit and vegetables. Louis XIV who was himself a keen gardener, enjoyed learning from La Quintinie how to prune and train fruit trees.
The king was proud to show off his superb vegetable garden to prestigious visitors such as the Siamese ambassador or the Doge of Venice.
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 .
Today’s garden at le Potager du roi
A garden to share
The Potager du Roi, listed historical monument in 1926, is an integral part of the domain of Versailles, itself part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. It was opened to the public in 1991 and cultural events take place throughout the year including dance events, exhibitions or plays.
Preserving practices & techniques
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 donators.
Old and recent varieties
‘Ariane’, ‘Api’, ‘Bon Chrétien d’hiver’, ‘Emma’ and many more.
At the Potager du Roi at least four hundred old and recent varieties of fruit and as many of vegetables are grown to provide the public with a wide selection of unusual and rare fruit and vegetables. Great taste, easy-growth, good integration in production agenda, singularity or historical values are some of the qualities gardeners take into account when selecting different varieties. Each year the Potager du Roi produces 30 tonnes of fruit and 20 tonnes of vegetables.
Enjoy your visit!
Potager du Roi Versailles – Opening times
- January to March : Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 am to 1 pm.
- April to October: Tuesdays to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm
- November to December: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 6 pm & Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm
Closed on 1 May
Closed over Christmas period
Possibility of organizing guided visits in English for groups of visitors, please contact the Potager du Roi for more information.