The Marqueyssac gardens are just a few kilometres from Les Milandes. While Chateau de Marqueyssac (reputedly built on the eve of the French revolution) is enchanting in its own right, it is principally known for its amazing gardens.
The Marqueyssac gardens are one of France’s listed ‘Jardins Remarquable’. Perched high above the Dordogne river they provide stunning views with sweeping vistas of the beautiful countryside.
The gardens were designed by a student of André Le Notre – famous designer of the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles – and first laid out in the 1600s. Two hundred years later many of the features that visitors most enjoy today were added. These include the incredible Grande Allée.
Walk up the slope below the pretty Chateau, through the extensive gift/bookshop and enter into a fabulously surreal setting; hundreds of hummocky, green mounds of boxwood which create a kind of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ style of garden! Although laid out in traditional French style as a ‘walking garden’, in that there is much use made of clipped box, (150,000 boxwood shrubs) and long gravel paths with far-reaching views, these gardens have been given a dramatic twist. By clipping the box hedges into a mass of swirls, whorls and rounds the space is given a dynamism not often seen in this type of gardening.
Wander along the sinuous paths that lead away from Chateau de Marqueyssac, and you reach the Belvedere which was also added to the gardens in the 18th century. This viewing balcony is 130m above the river Dordogne and offers the most spectacular panoramic views of the valley.
The gravel paths that lead around the Marqueyssac gardens are bordered with immaculately manicured, clipped rosemary and santolina. Stroll a bit further under the canopy of tall trees and discover clearings, picnic areas and swings with quiet areas to sit and contemplate the views. Altogether there are 6 km of walks and some parts are easily accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
The Marqueyssac Gardens at night
After your wanderings in the sunshine, stop and enjoy a snack at the tea shop on the terrace overlooking the stunning valley.
Visit on Thursday evenings throughout the summer and be dazzled by the sight of the Marqueyssac gardens lit by 2000 candles…truly a romantic experience in this most romantic of French gardens.
If romantic gardens are your thing, Les Jardins de la Chartreuse du Colombier in Paunat are well worth a visit. These are less well known but do check opening times.