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The surprise water gardens

At right-angles to the ice-house, a path leads between two box-hedge mazes to the "pleasure-garden" based on water in all shapes and forms : islands, waterfalls and streams surrounded by century-old trees and also a more recent arboretum.

To entertain, to astonish, to charm, to add a further dimension to their parks and gardens, men have since classical times used artificial processes to animate nature and create paradises of escapism, dream, nostalgia or desire.

The Renaissance was fascinated by hydraulic mechanisms which were particularly fashionable in France in the 17th and 18th centuries.

This long standing tradition of water gardens reached a pinnacle with the spectacular achievement of the gardens at Versailles ; a maze created in 1670 contained 39 fountains inspired by Aesop's fables.

Inspired from a family tradition, "surprise" fountains have been re-created, in association with follies and ancient tales : the Chinese Bridge, the Spring of the Muses, the Crystal Tree, the Temple of Serenity, the green rooms and the Tortoise Waterfall are all to be found in the water-gardens.