Those who were not there at the time cannot even begin to imagine the dismay of the Versailles staff – and especially the gardeners – when, in the early hours of 26 December 1999, the full extent of the destruction wrought by the passage of Storm Lothar the night before was revealed.
Those elsewhere in France at the time, who had also been surprised by the uncommon violence of the wind, remember the photo on the front page of the New York Times that symbolised the disaster. It showed the Grand Trianon park in ruins, almost 70% of it destroyed.
This image undoubtedly played a large part in mobilising the Americans, who, along with the French, responded to the international fundraising appeal that was quickly launched to replant the gardens. In just three years, the goal of “10,000 trees for Versailles” was reached, representing an extraordinary act of solidarity in addition to the special assistance provided by the State.
For twenty years, our patrons have continued unfailingly to support the restoration of the groves, walkways and parterres of the estate of Versailles. Thanks to them, the replanting of the Saint-Cyr Walkway and the revival of the Queen’s Grove will complete the work that began as the 21st century dawned.
Twenty years… Thus, within a generation, landscaping and colours that had been lost over the years since the 18th century have been restored to the Park of Versailles.
President of the Établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles