The landscape architect Andre Le Notre, born March 12, 1613, died September 15, 1700, was the creator of the French formal garden. His earliest royal post was first gardener to King Louis XIII at the Tuileries in Paris, where he succeeded (1637) his father. As buildings inspector for the royal works from 1657), he was responsible for all the chief royal gardens, (especially those at Saint Germain, Fontainebleau, and Clagny, and for the parks of the chief ministers of King Louis XIV. Le Notre's best known work is the immense park of the Palace of Versailles (1661-90), commissioned by Louis XIV and imitated throughout Europe. The principles of the jardin francais, however, can be seen more clearly at the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, where Le Notre worked (1656-61) in collaboration with the architect Louis Le Vau and the designer Charles Le Brun. Whereas the design of the typical Renaissance garden consisted of individual geometric units laid side by side, with a strong sense of compartmentalization, the gardens designed by Le Notre were unified by a dominant central axis that firmly controlled the movement of the spectator through the various lawns, gardens, and pools. He also made use of the lay of the land for optical effects, closing the vista by funneling the lines of perspective. He also channeled water from terrace to terrace as it passed through the various cascades and fountains. His spacious, elegantly orchestrated works epitomized the opulent era of Louis XIV and played a key role in the development of landscape architecture.
Official site (created by Ministery of Culture of France):
http://www.lenotre.culture.gouv.fr/ (French and English)