Lovers of trees and nature walks will rejoice: after the damage of the recent storm Miguel who mowed fifty trees, the 205 hectares of the arboretum Versailles-Chèvreloup were quickly reopened at public.
For many, who do not know him yet, it's an incentive to go and discover this magical place. And, on occasion, to learn what an arboretum is: a collection – or a conservatory – of trees planted for scientific purposes, study and conservation, which does not preclude purely aesthetic considerations .
"There are only ten in France"explains botanist Frédéric Achille, scientific leader of outdoor plant collections. However, the size of its collections (2,500 species and varieties of trees, 10,000 subjects), that of Versailles-Chèvreloup is exceptional. His story is not less so.
Separated today from the estates of the Grand and Petit Trianon by the Rendez-Vous alley, it covers lands bought by Louis XIV in 1685 to extend its hunting reserve. A first small botanical garden was built under Louis XV, at the initiative of the scientist Bernard de Jussieu, professor in Paris in the Garden of the King who became, during the Revolution, the National Museum of Natural History. This museum, whose mission is the research and dissemination of knowledge, manages the arboretum still today, just like the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.
A large English park or musarder
In 1922, when the Jardin des Plantes had just sought to expand, the project of making Chèvreloup a large botanical garden resurfaced. Alas, the official decree was signed shortly before the crisis of 1929 … The project – pharaonic – will never be completed. It was not until the 1960s that a new scientific project emerged – a grouping of species by geographical origins or botanical affinities.
From the initial project, there are still beautiful collections that deserve to be better known. This Arboretum Chèvreloup (which, to be better spotted, has joined "Versailles" to his title, but unfortunately does not open directly on the grounds of the castle …) is an hour from Paris. Its paths are suitable for cycling, walking and even with a dog (on a leash). It is possible to picnic and also to take a nap in the natural meadows mowed twice a year.
"Lausanne Gardens" celebrates the plant in the city
The visitor can also hang out at random in this large English park, listen to birds (more than 40 species), walk along the largest blue cedar alley in the world (800 meters long) or admire more oaks than centenarians. Illustrated educational panels provide information on the main species. But those who have more curiosity and wish to discover one of the areas (European, American, Asian, etc.) of the arboretum have interest in following a discovery tour or opt for a guided tour.
The richness of these collections should not intimidate. Whether isolated or in massifs, the trees of Chèvreloup are at first a feast for the eyes. The photographer Snezana Gerbault was very good at capturing the beauty of the trees, the gradations of colors, the blooms, the moods that vary according to the time of day, the seasons and the weather. His photos are on site until November 15.
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