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2 Unique Gardens in Dordogne, Aquitaine, France

By alison - January 26, 2016

Exploring 2 Unique Gardens in Dordogne, Aquitaine, France

We discover two unique gardens with amazing views, in Dordogne, France: Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil and Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac.

Dordogne, France is known for its many beautiful castles and chateaux. Often, where there are castles there are also gardens and the Dordogne department of Aquitaine is no exception. During our stay in the area, we discovered two unusual gardens well worth exploring.

Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil

Our first garden adventure took us to the Plus Beaux Village of Limeuil. Even without the garden, Limeuil is worth visiting. It’s your stereotypical hilltop village simply oozing French charm. As we hiked to the top in the blazing sun, we couldn’t help but joke about how ‘ugly’ France can be. I mean seriously…

The Plus Beau Village of Limeuil, in Dordogne, France

Really France, it’s like you’re not even trying… 😉
The Plus Beau Village of Limeuil, in Dordogne, France

Roses and prettiness everywhere you look in Limeuil, France
The Plus Beau Village of Limeuil, in Dordogne, France

The Plus Beau Village of Limeuil, in Dordogne, France

As the garden is closed during lunch, we decided to enjoy a bite to eat before our visit. The Au Bon Accueil B&B and Restaurant tempted us with a shady terrace and an affordable lunch menu. The service was warm, the food was fresh and delicious, and the setting was perfect.

A shady terrace beckons at Au Bon Accueil B&B and Restaurant, Limeuil

A shady terrace beckons at Au Bon Accueil B&B and Restaurant, Limeuil
A fresh, affordable, and delicious lunch at Au Bon Accueil Restaurant, Limeuil

A fresh, affordable, and delicious lunch at Au Bon Accueil Restaurant, Limeuil

Adequately fuelled and ready to go, we finished the hike to the very top of the village. (The people who live here must have buns of steel!) There we found the Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil, with its sweeping view of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers.

The confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers gave Limeuil its strategic importance.

The confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers gave Limeuil its strategic importance.

This is far from a typical French garden. The main building, once a private home, was purchased in the 19th century by the former doctor of the Sultan of Morocco. When he retired, Dr. Linares wanted to create a Moroccan-style garden.

The ardins Panoramiques de Limeuil and it's Moroccan-style main building

The ardins Panoramiques de Limeuil and it’s Moroccan-style main building

In 2004, the municipality and heritage association, Au Fil du Temps, took over the property and rehabilitated it into the Jardins Panoramiques, or Panoramic Gardens of Limeuil.

Above all, the Jardins Panoramiques are here to educate and share ideas. Rather than one large garden, it is a series of smaller themed gardens visitors follow along a sign-posted pathway. There is a medieval garden, colour garden, gourmet garden, water garden, and even a witch garden. They are interactive, educational, and family-friendly.

The water garden at the Jardins Panoramiques have a stunning view

The water garden at the Jardins Panoramiques have a stunning view
This tower hosts a giant bee hive with windows for viewing the workers safely.

This tower hosts a giant bee hive with windows for viewing the workers safely.

Visitors are given a guidebook (available in English) explaining the history of the garden, but also the history of Limeuil and its importance as a trading point at the confluence of two major rivers.

The views of the rivers and valleys give are the highlight of Limeuil's garden

The views of the rivers and valleys give are the highlight of Limeuil’s garden

Of course, one of the highlights of the garden is the namesake panoramic view of the rivers and valleys. The view alone is worth the price of admission.

Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil
Limeuil Haut,
24510 Limeuil, France

Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac

While the gardens in Limeuil had been recommended to us by a local, the Suspended gardens of Marqueyssac were completely my idea. While researching Dordogne, I stumbled across photos of the unique sculptured hedges of Marqueyssac and wanted to see them for myself.

Marqueyssac is not an off-the-beaten-path destination. While we had the gardens in Limeuil almost to ourselves, Marqueyssac was already busy when we arrived early in the morning. In fact, it’s the most visited garden in the Dordogne-Perigord area. What’s unusual about this is there is hardly a flower to be seen.

Marqueyssac's chateau is small but pretty and is the starting point of the garden

Marqueyssac’s chateau is small but pretty and is the starting point of the garden

Marqueyssac is an architectural garden and a walking garden. Like Limeuil, one of the garden’s most striking features is its views. The sweeping vistas take in farmland, the river valley, and a number of the Dordogne’s castles. While we had previously seen Beynac and Castelnaud castles from above by hot-air balloon, at Marqueyssac we were on the same level.

Beynac and Castelnaud castles can be spotted from Marqueyssac Gardens

Beynac and Castelnaud castles can be spotted from Marqueyssac Gardens

The other main feature of Marqueyssac garden is its boxwood hedges. These hedges, planted in the 19th century, have been shaped and sculpted into sensuous curves and lead visitors down a series of paths.

Boxwood hedges everywhere, sculpted to perfection at Marqueyssac gardens

Boxwood hedges everywhere, sculpted to perfection at Marqueyssac gardens

The garden is designed around three main walking routes; one on either side of the hilltop and one down the middle of the garden. The paths lead from the entrance and the sculpted hedges to a belvedere with more stunning views. This is a garden made for walkers, with over 6km of pathways through art installations and shady woodland.

There is plenty to see and do at Marqueyssac Gardens in Dordogne, France

There is plenty to see and do at Marqueyssac Gardens in Dordogne, France

While we found the views and the shady pathways inviting, for me, it’s the boxwood hedge garden that steals the show. There are more than 150,000 boxwoods, hand sculpted by a team of gardeners, who we saw hard at work on the morning we visited. My only wish was for the ability to see this garden from above and fully admire the expanse of sculpted hedges.

Marqueyssac from above (Press Photo copyright Marqueyssac Gardens)

Marqueyssac from above (Press Photo copyright Marqueyssac Gardens)
Marqueyssac from above (Press Photo copyright Marqueyssac Gardens)

Marqueyssac from above (Press Photo copyright Marqueyssac Gardens)

Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac
24220 Vézac, France

Both of these unique gardens in Dordogne are well worth visiting. Carve out, at least, two hours each and be prepared to do a fair amount of walking. Enjoy the gardens themselves but be sure to take the time to admire the stunning views of the Dordogne-Perigord department, in Aquitaine, France.

Exploring 2 Unique Gardens in Dordogne, Aquitaine, France

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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