ExploreKeith Van SickleRoad Trips South of France

Art in the Trees at the Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

Tucked into the mountains north of Nice, next to Roure’s charming village, sits an arboretum unique in the world. It mixes exotic trees, rare flowers, and “no-made” art in a mountain park overlooking the wild Tinel Valley—a perfect day trip for nature lovers and art enthusiasts alike.

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

The Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum was founded in 1988 by Michèle Ramin and botanist Marcel Kroëlein—then the director of the Exotic Garden of Monaco—and today is run by the noted landscape architect Jean Mus. It stretches over 17 hectares along the flank of a mountain, rising from an elevation of 1300m to 1700m and creating “a green cathedral.”

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

Protecting Rare Flora

The arboretum’s primary mission is the protection of rare and threatened mountain trees from around the world. Specimens of over 130 different varieties have been planted in the arboretum, with more added every year. These include a wide range of conifers and deciduous trees, and mountain fruit trees like the wild cherry.

La rose de France ©l'Arboretum Marcel Kroenlein

©l’Arboretum Marcel Kroenlein

The arboretum is also home to many mountain flowers, like the Alpine Violet and the Rosa Gallica—the only rose protected by French law. And it has assembled a complete collection of the wild roses of the Alpes Maritime region, a feat which garnered it the prestigious Henry Ford Environmental Award.

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

Nature as Artist

Besides the protection of flora, the arboretum’s mission is to serve as a place of artistic expression. Every year, artists worldwide gather to display their Land Art among the trees and turn it over to the elements. The forces of nature refashion these pieces over time, as each is sculpted by the sun, wind, rain, and snow.

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

The arboretum hosts events throughout the year, like concerts and expositions and the always popular Nature, Art, and Gastronomy. And it regularly sponsors nature outings with schools in the region as part of its scientific mission.

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

The arboretum has several notable sponsors, including Prince Albert of Monaco and the city of Nice. An elite science committee advises it on botanical questions. The French government has recognized the arboretum as a Jardin Remarquable (remarkable garden) and Tourisme et Handicap (suitable for those with physical limitations).

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

If you are looking for an unusual mountain experience not far from the sunny Mediterranean coastline, a trip to the Arboretum Marcel Kroënlein might be just the ticket.

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum

Practical Information

Marcel Kroënlein Arboretum (website)
Hours: Open daily 10 am to 6 pm
Entry fee: 5 euros for adults (kids are free)

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith is a lifelong traveler who got his first taste of overseas life during a semester abroad in England. But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland that made him really fall in love with Europe.

After returning to California, he and his wife Val dreamed of living abroad again but couldn’t find another expat gig, so they invented their own. Now they split their time between California and St-Rémy-de-Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Keith is the author of One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both available from Amazon.

This article is based on content that Keith is collecting for his third book, “An Insiders Guide to Provence,” with a publication date of December 2021. Click here to pre-order the book.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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