France has some amazing gardens within the grounds of chateaus or in public spaces. But surely none are as sculptural as the beautiful Marqueyssac Hanging Gardens. If you enjoy gardening or simply appreciate the synergy of art and nature you really must visit this wonderful site.
Where are the Marqueyssac Hanging Gardens?
The amazing hanging gardens of Marqueyssac are in the Dordogne department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and is the most popular garden for tourists in the region.
Since 1997, the gardens have been classified among the Notable Gardens of France by the Committee of Parks and Gardens of the French Ministry of Culture.
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Enhanced by the cypresses, brightened by cyclamen, and with its incredible array of pruned box the site has a romantic Toscan air whose popularity is evident by the fact that it is the most visited garden in the Aquitaine.
The belvedere view of the river and the nearby village of La Roque-Gageac, one of the most best villages in France to visit, is well worth the effort of climbing up there…you can always rest before you need to come back down.
What are the Marqueyssac Gardens?
The Château de Marqueyssac is a 17th-century château and gardens at Vézac, in the Dordogne. The château was built at the end of the 17th century by Bertrand Vernet de Marqueyssac, Counselor to Louis XIV, on cliffs overlooking the Dordogne valley.
The original garden featured terraces, alleys, and a kitchen garden surrounding the chateau. Between 1830 and 1840, Julien Bessières constructed a chapel and a grand alley one hundred meters long for horseback rides.
In the 1860s, the new owner, Julien de Cervel, began to plant thousands of boxwood trees – today there are over 150,000 – and had them carved in fantastic shapes, many in groups of rounded shapes.
He also added linden trees, cypress trees, and stone pine from Italy, and introduced the cyclamen from Naples. Following the Romantic style, he built rustic structures, redesigned the parterres, and laid out five kilometres of walks.
In the second half 20th century, the house was rarely occupied and the gardens were not well maintained. Beginning in 1996, a new owner, Kleber Rossillon, restored the gardens to their old character.
He also added new features including an alley of santolina and rosemary and, in the romantic spirit of the 19th century, a narrow levada of water descending from the belvedere and ending in a cascade, the authenticity of which is surprisingly persuasive.
The gardens were opened to the public in 1996, and now host almost 200,000 visitors each year.
Things to do in Marqueyssac Gardens
France is home to many gardens but there are none that are quite as unique and original as the Jardins Marqueyssac. Located overlooking the Dordogne river, the Jardins Marqueyssac are in a prime spot and have a lot to offer visitors of all ages and tastes.
If you are looking for a place to do a spot of photography then the Jardins Marqueyssac is the ideal location. With a garden filled with beautifully maintained topiaries and wandering paths.
There are more than three miles worth of walking paths here that take you through various parts of this lush garden. It’s something of a paradise.
There is also a castle within the gardens which is open to visitors where you can take a step back in time to the 17th century. You will also be able to appreciate how the castle was developed over the years with aspects right through to the 20th century.
For animal lovers, the Jardins Marqueyssac has an aviary that houses several types of pigeons and even some resident peacocks.
Although these can be a little shy so you’re not guaranteed to see them. And in memory of the prehistoric wildlife that once roamed these parts, there is the recent addition of a giant dinosaur skeleton. That’s certainly one that the kids will enjoy.
There is a delightful little tea room where you can enjoy a bite to eat while taking in the perfect surroundings.
And when you’re done, why not take a walk through the woods which lead to a spot overlooking the glorious countryside right the way to La Roque Gageac?
If you enjoy visiting gardens Les Jardins de L’Imaginaire isn’t too far away and offers a very different experience.