France has got a lot to offer and no, we’re not just talking about the wine and cheese. Tourists tend to focus on Paris or maybe the Alps, but it’s a vast country and therefore, there’s a lot of ground to cover if you really want to discover its ins and outs. If you’re still dreaming about a trip to France this summer but you don’t really know where to go and if you want to stay away from the crowds gathering at the coastline, you may want to have a look at the Dordogne.
For those who aren’t acquainted with the region just yet, let’s paint you a little picture. The Dordogne is located in the southwest of France, a little more inland compared to Bordeaux and – let’s face it – a lot more secluded. It’s also known as the land of thousand and one castles, thanks to the 619 castles and 382 manors in the area. Even though this is historically linked to the one hundred years war, legend has it, the castles were a gift of God to men and more precisely of his angel John. When John saw Sylvie, a local girl living in the Dordogne, he was so charmed by her that he decided to put all 1001 castles left in his bag in the Dordogne as on ode to her.
Yet today, we’re not really here to talk about the castles. We’re here to talk about the Dordogne’s natural beauty and what we, humans, have done with that gift. Because when travelling through the region, you’ll soon discover one of the many gardens located in the Dordogne. And even though they’re probably all worth a visit, we made a selection of the 5 best gardens in the Dordogne which you can’t miss out on during your stay.
1. The Marqueyssac gardens
Let’s start with the Marqueyssac gardens, which are actually closely linked to the castle of Marqueyssac. The château dates back to the seventeenth century. The garden itself though was totally reshaped in the nineteenth century and is primarily known for its 150.000 boxwood hedges. Yes, you read that number right. The boxwood is shaped by hand year in, year out and shows you how, with a little help from your imagination, you can create a spectacular garden with essentially just one plant. Thanks to its location on an outcrop of rock, the views tend to be rather spectacular as well.
2. Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire
If you’re looking for something a bit more modern and perhaps playful, the Jardins de l’Imaginaire might be right up your alley. The gardens are designed as to give you an overview of garden history as a whole, ranging from the Roman times up until now. The variety of plants is just overwhelming and thanks to the many fountains on site, it’s a perfect choice during the hot summer months as well. Your kids will very certainly enjoy it.
3. Les Jardins d’Eau
This is the place to be if you want to breathe in some nature for a bit, sure, but mainly it’s where you should go if you’ve always been a water person above all. Even though with their 3 hectares they’re on the smaller side of things (compared to most gardens in this list, that is), thanks to their level of specialization, they are still worth a visit. Even though, during the season, you might want to take a bit of mosquito repellent with you.
4. The Gardens of Eyrignac
If you’re looking for a place that feels cozy while drenching yourself in history, the Gardens of Eyrignac are certainly worth a visit. The estate counts a grand total of 200 hectares, 10 of which are kept as a garden and shaped by hand. Every corner hides a potential sculpture, the pond is so inviting you want to dive in and thanks to the many benches and nooks, you could spend an entire day over here, drowning in nature and not thinking about anything else in the world.
5. Panoramic Gardens of Limeuil
As the name suggests, here, natural beauty is closely linked with breathtaking panoramic views of the surroundings. And that’s not a coincidence, as Limeuil is actually classified as one of France’s most beautiful villages. The garden was once founded in the nineteenth century by Doctor Linarès and were restored in 2004, making sure his legacy would live on. The result? An entertaining, pedagogical, varied garden where you’ll leave with a lot more knowledge than you had when you walked through the gates.