At the behest of Louis XIV, Chèvreloup Reservoir was built starting in 1680, according to Le Nôtre’s plans.
Les jardins de Versailles
An integral part of the water system of the Versailles and Trianon gardens, it measures “100 toises long by 50 wide and eight feet deep” (or 195 x 97 m and 2.5 metres deep) and contained 15,000 cubic metres of water. The water collected in this catchment, coming from Rocquencourt reservoir and Bailly plain, was then carried by two pipes to the Trèfle Reservoir (1671) to feed the Trianon fountains. Repaired several times, Chèvreloup Reservoir was abandoned at the end of the 19th century and is no longer watertight.
The banks of the reservoir are adorned with a double row of 128 red horse chestnuts, Aesculus ×carnea ’Briotii’. These chestnuts have a particular historical connection with the site. Indeed, this horticultural variety, widely cultivated throughout the world today, was obtained in 1858 by Pierre-
Louis Briot (1804-1888) from the Trianon nurseries, which then extended as far as Chèvreloup plain. Briot was in charge of these nurseries from 1834 to 1884, and selected this variety from many Aesculus ×carnea ’Briotii’ seedlings, a hybrid of the European chestnut A. hippocastanum and an American chestnut A. pavia. This variety was then marketed by Jean-Jacques Moser, horticulturist rue Saint-Symphorien in Versailles, who gave it the name ’Briotii’ in tribute to its breeder.
This chestnut variety is remarkable for its vigour, the intense colour of its flowers (the darkest of all red horse chestnuts), its dark green foliage resistant to pests. The variety is propagated by grafting on the trunks of common horse chestnuts.