Plunge into the region’s history with a stroll through Provence’s parks and gardens and discover a host of typical plant species, together with some truly astonishing venues. Warning: some of the local fragrances may surprise you!
Welcome to a little corner of paradise, where magic and poetry combine in a genuine firework display of colour and fragrance. Located in Le Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, near Ramatuelle, Domaine du Rayol leads visitors on a fascinating discovery tour of plant species cradled by Mediterranean climates the world over (California, Australia, South Africa, etc.). This magical site, dotted with palm trees, cacti, secret stairways lined with earthenware jars and terraces set overlooking the sea, embodies the very essence of Provence.
A voyage through time
History buffs will love the grounds of Château de Val Joanis, built on the ruins of a Roman villa. Set next to a vast vineyard, the Château was designed in keeping with 17th-century taste. A few kilometres to the West of Forcalquier, the garden of the ancient Abbaye de Valsaintes a Cistercian monastery built in the late 12th century, are definitely worth the trip. The garden is planted with around 500 rose varieties, many hardy local plants and a magnificent collection of lavenders.
Just a short hop from Aix-en-Provence, the Jardin des 5 sens et des formes premières is a unique concept. This beautiful park, featuring a series of symbolic round, square and triangular plots, is a genuine ode to the senses. Don’t miss the delightfully-evocative and well-hidden Jardin d’Eguilles, overflowing with natural treasures and exhibiting around 100 works by contemporary artist Max Sauze.
Plants and herbs galore
Unique in Europe, the Jardin conservatoire des plantes tinctoriales in Lauris specializes in plants whose natural dyes are used in painting, fabric dyeing, cosmetics and food. This eco-friendly site also hosts a variety of creative workshops. A little further North, in Bonnieux, Jardin de la Louve is an archetypal Provencal garden where you can admire typical local cistus, rosemary, thyme and much more. The Pavillon de Galon near Cucuron is also well worth a visit.
Spanning 15 acres, the gardens of Prieuré de Salagon priory offer visitors a delightful botanical discovery tour based on 4 themes: a herb and village plant garden, medieval garden, modern garden and fragrance garden, where you will have fun sniffing out nice and not-so-nice everyday scents. Whoever knew that plants could smell of popcorn, sweets or… old tyres?!
Style & architecture
A contemporary garden inspired by Tuscany, Domaine de Brantes in Sorgues comprises a plant garden, natural meadow and woodland, set around three stunning mirror pools. You’ll also find pools at Clos de Villeneuve – a garden set on three terraces opening onto Plateau de Valensole. The grounds of Château de Sauvan in Mane and Jardins d’Albertas in Bouc Bel Air offer a delicious plunge into traditional French-style gardens. Looking for something typically Provencal? Head to the Jardins de Romégas in Aix-en-Provence.