Arboretum de Versailles-Chèvreloup (Arboretum at Versailles-Chèvreloup)
Lime trees, orchids, rabbits and roe deer are all inhabitants here. 2,500 species of tree and 8,000 greenhouse plants from all over the world live together in the Arboretum at Versailles-Chèvreloup. Explore the wonders of nature on foot or by bike, just a stone’s throw from Paris…
Arboretum de Versailles-Chèvreloup - bande annonce
North of the Palace of Versailles, stunning collections of plants flourish over 205 hectares, 50 of which are open to the public. However, before they enter this sanctuary, the trees have to show their credentials. They all, in fact, belong, with only a very few exceptions, to wild species which appear naturally in the wild. And in every case, the trees are closely monitored! They can be found out in the field using a database coupled with mapping.
Perfect for a stroll
Travel around the world without stepping foot outside the Île-de-France! Along the pathways of this Muséum of living trees, you’ll see oaks, rhododendrons, American giants, larches, conifers, maples, holly, magnolias and lilacs. To ensure that the trees acclimatise properly to the Paris climate, most of the specimens come from Europe, Asia and America. A few species, however, originate from warmer regions, including Africa, South America and Oceania. The only native species are the herbaceous plants and the wildlife (birds, rabbits, pheasants, hedgehogs, foxes, roe deer, stone martens and pine martens)!
With 2,500 species of trees, the Versailles-Chèvreloup estate has the largest collection of of its kind in continental Europe. To avoid becoming lost amongst this abundant vegetation, the planting plan has been carefully thought out. In the first 120 hectare area, the trees are actually grouped together according to their geographic origins. In another 50 hectare area they are grouped by botanical affinity, with majestic rows of plane trees, American walnut trees and Atlas cedar trees. Finally, in the centre of the park, cultivars — species bred by Man which do not occur naturally in the wild — make a beautiful (or strange) sight!
Although the trees in the park tolerate the Paris climate well, other plants find refuge in two groups of greenhouses covering 6,000 m². The gardeners take good care of the 5,000 tropical and Mediterranean species there, including orchids, pelargoniums and fuchsias. In addition to these greenhouses which are used for conservation and research, there are areas reserved for the 60,000 seasonal plants grown every year to fill the Parisian flowerbeds with colour, as well as a nursery for the Jardin des Plantes collections. It’s worth noting that the Arboretum greenhouses only reveal their treasures when the estate holds open days. Plan your visit wisely!
As you walk around, you might come across a very special tree - Jussieu’s Pagoda Tree. It was planted by the famous botanist in 1747 — almost half a century after Louis XIV bought the Chèvreloup farm (in 1699), and almost two hundred years before it was given to the Muséum to create an arboretum there (in 1927). A witness to this extraordinary saga, it has survived various fortunes. Felled by the storm in 1999, which destroyed over 1,000 trees, a small root cutting brought it back to life in 2002. An indefatigable three hundred year-old!
Science with a conscience
With all of this history behind it, the Arboretum plays a vital role in the conservation of species. For some of them, threatened with extinction, it is their last refuge. It is also a leading location for research into genetics, pharmacology, ecology and physiology, thanks to plants from all over the world being together on the same site. And finally, it’s a great tool for raising awareness of biodiversity. Fancy a life-size experience?