The famous Tuileries gardens were originally laid out Italian-style to complement the palace built for Catherine de Médicis in 1564. Corneille described them as “the land of the beautiful people and of gallantry”, where balls, concerts, and fireworks provided constant animation. In 1649, Louis XIV stepped onto the scene with his minister Colbet and commissionned major changes by his favorite landscape gardener, the prodigious André Le Nôtre. Two lateral esplanades were built up and the central alley that led away from the château laid out. At the time, the garden was considered one of the best kept in Europe and was a fashionable promenading area. Although the royal residence went up in serious smoke at the hands of the Communards in 1871 and was never rebuilt, the gardens survived, changing their appearance little over the next century.