Le Salon de la Ménagerie
Situated at the southern end of the transverse arm of the Grand Canal (visible at the left of this print), the Menagerie was the first building erected in the park of Versailles. Architect Louis Le Vau (1612–1670) designed an octagonal central pavilion with a viewing balcony surrounded by seven wedge-shaped enclosures and an aviary. The exotic birds and other rare animals on display were presented by foreign sovereigns or supplied by French travelers and merchants.
In 1698, the Menagerie was refurbished for the duchess of Burgundy, the young wife of the king’s eldest grandson. It continued to operate throughout the eighteenth century but gradually fell into disrepair. During the French Revolution, the animals were freed, slaughtered, or transferred to Paris; the buildings were auctioned off and dismantled a few years later. Only a few vestiges remain today.