The Making of the French Garden

The Making of the French Garden

The Gardens of the Château de Versailles

Thursday, February 10 at 12:00 p.m.
$10 Member • $20 Non-member • Free for students*
On Zoom • In English • 12:00 p.m. Chicago(CST) /1:00 p.m. Miami (EST)/19h Paris

Register now

12:00 p.m. (Chicago) • 1:00 p.m. (Miami)  7:00 p.m. (Paris) 

* Entrée Libre initiative: Free for students high school, college, university. Please register with your .edu address


Following the success of our Grands Châteaux Series last winter, Russell Kelley spent the summer visiting the Grands Jardins de France! Our curator extraordinaire returns with a live online series exploring the evolution of the French garden through history, from the Renaissance to the Vertical Garden.  Get ready to travel through time and go green!


The Gardens of the Château de Versailles

Louis XIV built the Château de Versailles, 12 miles/20 km southwest of Paris, between 1664 and 1715. He employed Louis Le Vau as architect (succeeded by Jules Hardouin-Mansart), Charles Le Brun as decorator, and André Le Nôtre as landscape architect, all of whom had worked at Vaux-le-Vicomte for Nicolas Fouquet. Le Nôtre laid out the vast gardens in the Classical style, with their wide allées flanked by geometric flower beds, 17 groves, 50 fountains, and especially la Grande Perspective that leads due west from the Galerie des Glaces to the mile/1.6-km-long Grand Canal and beyond to the setting sun. The formal gardens of Versailles soon became the model for gardens throughout Europe. The scale of Versailles was awe-inspiring: By the time Louis died in 1715, the original gardens of 250 acres/100 hectares had expanded to more than 4,000 acres/1,600 hectares, while the Grand Parc covered some 15,000 acres/6,100 hectares, enclosed by a wall 26 miles/42 km long. (By comparison, the Boulevard Périphérique around Paris is 22 miles/35 km long.) The gardens and park now cover 2,000 acres/800 hectares. 

Speaker: Gabriel Wick is a Paris-based landscape historian, writer and curator. He is an adjunct lecturer in architectural and urban history at the Paris campus of New York University. He received his doctorate in history from the University of London (QMUL) in 2017, and holds masters degrees in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley and historic landscape conservation from the National Architecture School of Versailles (ÉNSA – Versailles). He is the author of a number of books and scholarly articles on 18th century French landscapes, including Le Domaine de Méréville - Renaissance d’un Jardin (Éditions des Falaises, 2018). He is currently consulting with the Foundation Chambrun on the conservation management plan of the Marquis de Lafayette’s domain of La Grange-Bléneau.   


Russell Kelley is the curator and moderator of this lecture series and was the curator of last winter’s series on the “Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Île de France.” He is the author of The Making of Paris: The Story of How Paris Evolved from a Fishing Village into the World’s Most Beautiful City (Lyons Press, 2021), and has lived in Paris for 30 years.


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This program is presented in partnership with the Alliance Française Miami Metro with communication support from the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, the French Heritage Society, the Historic Gardens Foundation, WICE, and The Garden Conservancy.

Through our Entrée Libre initiative, free admission to this program is offered to students enrolled in French Studies in universities and French schools in Chicago and the Midwest.