The Versailles Orangery (French: L′Orangerie du Château de Versailles) was built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart between 1684 and 1686, that is to say, before work on the castle had even begun. It is under the flowerbed known as 'parterre du midi'. Its central gallery is 155 meters in length, and its frontage is directed towards the south. The central gallery is framed by two side galleries located under the “Escaliers des Cent Marches”. The whole is lit by large arched windows, which enclose the lower bed or the 'bed de l'orangerie'. In the winter, the Orangerie houses more than a thousand trees (mostly orange) in boxes. The “Parterre Bas” is bordered on its south side by a balustrade overlooking the Saint-Cyr-l'École. This separates it from the Swiss Pond. In the center of the Orangerie is a large circular pool, surrounded by six fields of grass. From May to October, the orange trees and other trees are exposed in the lower bed.
France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.Text by Steve Smith.