Our 10 key attractions

Ponds and channels of the Saclay plateau

An ingenious hydraulic system to supply water to the Versailles Palace fountains

Etangs - Agglo Paris-Saclay
Etangs - Agglo Paris-Saclay

The Saclay plateau boasts a hydraulic system that is unique in the world and supplies the Versailles Palace fountains with water. Fearing a lack of water, Louis XIV appointed on 1st January 1664 Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Superintendent of the Royal Buildings, to find a solution. First, the engineer Thomas Gobert carried out a study of the Saclay plateau. Then, he proposed the creation of a network of hydraulic channels to collect water, ponds in which to store it, and aqueducts to carry it to Versailles. The system only went into operation in 1683.

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A system abandoned in 1950

The channels are manmade waterways. There are six of them on the plateau: Favreuse, Les Granges, Corbeville, Chateaufort, Saint-Aubin and Guyancourt. The channels stretch for a total distance exceeding 62 km

Saclay’s Etang Neuf and Etang Vieux (New Pond and Old Pond) are components of this hydraulic system, along with 5 other ponds. Eventually, in 1950, the network, seen to be obsolete and an obstacle to the development of roads and buildings, fell into disuse.

Along the channels, markers engraved with a fleur de lis or crown remind us of their royal origins.

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An ideal walking spot​

Nowadays, there are paths along the channels, much to the delight of walkers. The Etang Vieux pond, now a classified nature reserve, offers birdwatchers a chance to spot some rare species. Finally, a bird observatory is being built to offer the best possible conditions for wildlife observers.

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