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Posts Tagged ‘Hyeres’

It’s gardening season and right on cue La Provence has brought out one of their ‘hors series’ on the subject: Jardins et Balcons. Costing 2,80€ and available from news kiosks, it’s a mine of information on indoor and outdoor gardening here in Provence – what grows well and when to plant.  It’s even got a section on making a vegetable garden on the terrace – not for me, I’m afraid; I’d rather sit and admire the view.  But I do like their descriptions of eight local gardens to visitpour s’inspirer et s’amuser’.  Here are their recommendations:

Parc de Baudouvin in La Valette du Var.  This 18th century Provençal garden has terraces, ponds and vegetable gardens specialising in old local varieties.  Planned by a landscape architect called Michel Racine, great name, it was awarded ‘Jardin Remarquable’ status in 2009.  All sorts of events take place.  Also ecological – they have ‘une Green Attitude’.

Jardin des Papillons, Digne-les-Bains

They have 137 types of day butterflies and 320 night species, 10% of all the varieties in the world. To support the butterflies there are 500 different types of wild plants.  In the hills above the town, there are great views and they provide tables for picnics.

Parc Olbius-Riquier, Hyeres. 

This park was left to the town and has developed into a botanical garden with exotic hothouse;  apparently it’s a favourite for Sunday family walks as there are shaded walks plus a petit-train and carousel.  They have animals (goats, monkeys, ponies) and lots of rare trees around a lovely lake.

Domaine du Rayol, Rayol-Canedel, between St Tropez and Le Lavandou

This is not so much a park as a natural coastal area which has been protected since 1989.  It is full of Mediterranean species and vegetation and there are guided tours.

Parc de Villecroze, the Var

Backed up against rocky cliffs, this has an amazing waterfall, caves, 19th century gardens – and it’s protected from the Mistral.  They have just established a play park for the little ones.  The nearby village was founded 2000 years ago and has narrow streets with arcaded buildings.

Jardin des Doms, Avignon

Situated next to the papal palace, you can walk up through the gardens and fountains to admire the view of the Rhone, the famous bridge and the town itself.  If the weather is clear, you should also be able to see Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail.

The statue (right) is Venus who is in the middle of a small lake – there is a café there or space for picnics.

Parc Borély, Marseille

Opposite the sea at the end of the Prado, this is a favourite for families.  Another ‘Jardin Remarquable’ this has Chinese trees, Japanese features, plus lots of Mediterranean species.  The original plane trees bordering the walkways were a casualty of WW2: American soldiers used the park to store munitions and the wooden cases harboured a killer mould.  It’s now replanted with lime trees – adding to the total of 1000 trees in the park along with 4600 rose-bushes of 380 varieties.  There are medicinal plants, an area for climbers plusa garden for 400 plants which live without watering.  It’s a favourite spot for picnics and even sporting events.

Parc du Mugel, La Ciotat

This is an oasis of Mediterranean planting between the massive cliffs and the sea.  It was started in the nineteenth century with successive private owners developing the range of species.  Today it is managed by the Bouches-du-Rhône council who have put up panels to describe the varieties of plants. Palm-trees, cacti and bamboos abound – all against a backdrop of Mediterranean blue.  Indeed you can climb to the belvedere at 82m for stunning views of the coast.

Full details – locations, opening times and entry fees where applicable – are all in ‘Jardins et Balcons’.

 

 

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