Gardens at

TYPE: Unnatural
DESIGN: André Le Nôtre
LOCATION: Versailles, France

Versailles is iconic for its historical importance and for its striking imagery. It is part of the world’s pop cultural lexicon into the 21st Century, even being the location for the rehearsal dinner for Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding in 2014. Although it is consumed by the heteronormative world without attention to its queerness, we argue that it is an example of one type of queer landscape design. The gardens of Versailles are grand, which mirrors the gaudy interior of the palace. More importantly, they are highly unnatural. In almost every section of the grounds, “natural” elements, including the trees, shrubs, and water, are abstracted to their most surreal form. The layout of the gardens, as seen from the palace, shows exactly how unnatural the gardens are. From this vantage point, there is a forced line of perspective leading out into the distance, a straight line formed with a strong hand on the land. The l’Orangerie places each perfectly trimmed tree in a neat pattern surrounding the ornately designed interior lawn. The inherently unnatural design of the gardens at Versailles is queer because being queer is “unnatural.”

  1. Patel, Pierre. View of the palace and gardens of Versailles, seen from the avenue de Paris, 1668.
  2. Unknown. Untitled. Chateau de Versailles.
  3. Unknown. Untitled. Wallpaper Safari, 3 Jan. 2018.
  4. Zolotov, Vladislav. Versailles Formal Gardens, Paris suburbs. 2020
  5. Fuste Raga, Jose. Untitled. “Marie Antoinette’s Private Garden at Versailles Is Being Restored” by Stefanie Waldek 15 Apr. 2020. Architectural Digest.