Gardens, the green treasures of Périgord noir

With their hundred-year-old boxwood cut into a ball at the bow of a promontory which dominates, in Vézac, the Dordogne valley, the hanging gardens of the Château de Marqueyssac (1) are the most famous of the so-called “black” Périgord because of its dark color of its ample forest cover.

The beauty of boxwood

Before arriving, we are worried about the boxwood, which a caterpillar – that of the borer – has been threatening for several years. Once there, we are relieved to find them intact and very green, thanks to a treatment based on Thuringian bacillus. Then, reassured, we discover that the 150,000 hand-cut box trees only occupy part of the large gardens around the 18th century castle.e century covered with slate …

→ WALK IN FRANCE. In Haute-Saône, a thousand ponds to take the time

Not only is a variety of activities offered to children (tree houses, play areas, craft workshops), but, through the groves and arches in wood and boxwood, six kilometers of romantic and tree-lined walks run through the long rocky ridge which offers an unforgettable view of the castles of Beynac and Castelnaud (which houses a museum of war in the Middle Ages) and of La Roque-Gageac and Domme, labeled “most beautiful villages in France”.

The splendor of the gardens

These terraced gardens owe their new-found splendor to the major restoration work carried out over the past twenty-three years by Kléber Rossillon. Alongside major prehistoric sites like Lascaux and the “1001 châteaux” highlighted by a historic route, they contribute to the appeal of a Périgord which conceals many other plant treasures …

Discovering them means facing the narrow and winding paths of the Perigord hills which lead to these wonders shaped by women and men in love with nature, with the help of a mild climate and a geography generous in water.

Hyperstructured lines

After Marqueyssac, on the way to the gardens of the manor of Eyrignac (2), in Salignac-Eyvigues. With their hyperstructured layout, their topiaries of boxwood, hornbeam and yew skilfully cut by hand, their ample lawns abundantly watered thanks to seven living springs and a borehole, they too are labeled “Remarkable Gardens”. Large and demanding – they mobilize six full-time gardeners – they were recreated in the 1960s by Gilles Sermadiras on the site of the “French” gardens of the 18th century.e then “English” of the XIXe. His son Patrick enriched it with a “white garden” with rosebushes and fountains, where “white picnics” are held every summer, accompanied by music and fireworks.

Gardens, the green treasures of Périgord noir

Other gardens, more discreet and far from the crowds, are also worth a visit, such as those of the Château de Losse (3), near Thonac. The owner, Jacqueline Van Der Schueren, has furnished them with passion and delicacy, in perfect harmony with the imposing castle made of defensive medieval architecture and Renaissance elements: a green arbor recalls the memory of the lost chapel, boxwood battlements grow on the old rampart walk, rosebushes nestle in the middle of the lovely crosses – also in boxwood – from the “low garden” towards the Vézère, bowers outline, outside the walls, a labyrinthine walk …

It’s hard not to be seduced by the rare elegance of this set, the same one which, in Paunat, makes your heart beat faster in the gardens of the Chartreuse du Colombier (4). Around this 17th century “house in the fields”e century, the former investment banker Bernard Hautefort arranged embroidery of boxwood, bowers, peonies, old roses, an important ornamental vegetable garden of Florentine inspiration and refined pavilions.

A romantic atmosphere

In Carlux, the gardens of Cadiot (5) are distinguished by a succession of romantic atmospheres. A happy combination of stone fountains, arbors of old roses, shady corners, patios, collections of peonies, grasses, hydrangeas, agapanthus … The vegetable garden is governed by permaculture. It is necessary, insists the owner Anne-Marie Decottignies, “To place oneself from the point of view of nature”. Biodiversity too.

This same concern inspires in Limeuil the panoramic gardens which offer a sublime view on the confluence of the Vézère and the Dordogne (6). Coming to complete the arboretum installed in 1902 by Doctor Linarès, the thematic, educational and fun trails and gardens are a delight for families with children. And fans of “escape game” (escape game). The love of gardens does not necessarily wait for the number of years!

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The Carsac water gardens:

In a Périgord used to castle gardens, the Bernardines were first taken for fools. And for good reason. Their Carsac Water Gardens are home to a stunning – and rare – collection of brightly colored water lilies and lotuses in pools overlooking the Dordogne. We walk through them on a labyrinth of footbridges … The water that reigns supreme there is managed in a closed circuit, insists Steven Bernard. And consumption remains modest, compared to the quantities required for the irrigation of neighboring corn. Also classified as a “Remarkable Garden”, the three-hectare site can be visited from May 1 to September 30. jardinsdeau.com

In practice :

Ask about. Departmental Tourism Center (dordogne-perigord-tourisme.fr).

Housing. Bed and breakfasts are a good accommodation option in the area. Let us quote “The heights of Gageac” in La Roque-Gageac (leshautsdegageac.fr), “The high barns” in Saint-Crépin-et-Carlucet (the-barns-hautes.fr), “Timeless”, at Buisson-de-Cadouin (lintemporellebnb.com).

Find Paula Boyer’s blog: voyage.blogs.la-croix.com

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