Carolyne Kauser-AbbottFrench Decor & GardensInspire: Art & Culture

Remarkable Mediterranean Gardens of the French Riviera

Remarkable French Gardens

If you need another reason to head to the Mediterranean coast, there are 14 gardens registered as Jardins remarquable (Remarkable Gardens) near the Côte d’Azur. Visit any one of these verdant paradises created by gardening enthusiasts and get lost in the beautiful scenery. Spread along the coastline from Antibes to Menton and into the Alpes Maritimes’ hills, these Jardins Remarquables feature seaside and mountain views.

Created in 2004, the label Jardin Remarquable celebrates and documents the magnificent gardens of France. A Jardin Remarquable is one that meets the established criteria; integration in the site, an interesting blend of vegetation, quality of the location, engaging use of plants, and, where applicable, provides historical interest. Earning the Jardins Remarquable label requires a garden to “rise” above comparables for beautiful settings, aesthetic qualities, historical significance, and botanical elements. Once awarded, the Remarkable Garden label remains in place for five (5) years and is renewable.

French Riviera Gardens

Today, the high season on the French Riviera is during the summer months. However, in the 19th century, it was in the cold winter months when wealthy foreigners escaped to the French coast. This stylish group left a permeant impression on the Riviera with landmarks such as the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, art-deco homes and gardens filled with mimosas. The mimosa, part of the acacia family, is native to Australia, not the South of France. Originally planted in the 1850s in gardens of the “Riviera Set,” mimosas bloom along the coastline in winter. The Route du Mimosa runs 130 kilometres from Bormes les Mimosas to the perfume capital of Grasse.

Route du Mimosa Pegomas

@Côte d’Azur Tourisme

Cap d’Antibes

Le Jardin botantique de la Villa Thuret

The Thuret Botanical Gardens have been a site for historical botanic research since 1857. It was created by Gustave Thuret, a French botanist, as a place for him to conduct acclimatization trials on various exotic plants. He worked closely with Edouard Bornet and the Paris Museum to create scientific results that allowed the introduction of exotic species that shaped the Côte d’Azur landscape as we know it.

Jardin botanique de la Villa Thuret 002©INRA

Jardin botanique de la Villa Thuret 002©INRA

In 1868, French author Georges Sand described these gardens as “The loveliest garden I have ever seen…” When you visit, be sure to explore all parts of the gardens, including the herbarium, library, and botanical garden.

Jardin botanique de la Villa Thuret 006©INRA sized

Jardin botanique de la Villa Thuret 006©INRA

The gardens are open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM in winter, and 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM in the summer.

You can schedule private group bookings by appointment only. Self-guided tours are €3 per person for groups of 8+, and €2 per person for guided tours.

Find the garden at 90 Chemin Raymond, Cap d’Antibes. For more information, please visit their website!

Coursegoules

Jardin du vallon du Brec

The Garden du Vallon du Brec is a beautiful melting pot of intercontinental species from China, Japan, and North America. It’s located in Nice’s hinterland surrounded by 10,000 square metres of old terraces transformed into grass meadows. Established in 1992, the garden is a place to enjoy gorgeous native and exotic plants, roses, and endemic species of the Côte d’Azur.

The garden is not open to the public, but you can book a guided tour on their website. Groups must be a minimum of 4 people, and it costs €10 per adult and €5 per child. Find this garden at 30 Route de l’Ourmeou, Coursegoules.

Head up to Eze

Jardin Exotique d’Eze

The Exotic Garden of Eze is a breathtaking botanical stroll you can take perched 429 metres high above the Mediterranean Sea. It’s located on the site of an old medieval fortress, giving it a one-of-a-kind atmosphere you’ll want to experience in person. The garden features several species of succulents and xerophytes from all corners of the world. The garden also features lots of information about Eze’s historical and artistic heritage, so you’ll leave with a genuine feel for the Exotic garden’s past.

Jardin Exotique Eze Village French Riviera

@EzeTourism

The Exotic Garden was created just after the Second World War by André Gianton. The site it rests on was a coveted spot throughout the ages due to its panoramic view of the French Riviera and protection from harsh north winds.

You can visit the gardens with your dog on a leash at Rue du Château – 06360 Eze. It’s open to the public every day of the week for varying times throughout the year:

January – March, November & December: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
April – June, October: 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM
July – September: 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM

Remarkable Mediterranean Gardens Coast Eze, Jardin exotique

@Côte d’Azur Tourisme

Children under 12 can enjoy the garden for free. Students and groups are €3.50 per person. Individual attendees are €4 from November to March and €6 from April to October. For more information, visit their website!

The garden is one of many reasons to visit must-see Eze.

Gattières

Le Jardin des Fleurs de Poterie

The Pottery Flower Garden is a lush garden combined with a pottery workshop and seasonal rental. If you’re looking for a unique vacation, this garden is a must-see. You can rent an apartment or take part in a pottery workshop (or both!) right in the peaceful countryside north of Nice, surrounded by hundred-year-old olive trees. While you stroll through the garden, you can enjoy several of the artist’s ceramic creations nestled right in with the flora.

It is necessary to make an appointment to visit the pottery workshop. Here is the website!

Grasse the Perfume Capital

Garden of the Villa Fort France

The Fort France garden dates back to 1930, when British writer Lady Fortescue and her husband, the librarian for King George VI, built it as a rose garden. Since then, it’s continued to grow and expand and is now dotted with olive trees, aromatic plants, perennials, and a myriad of other gorgeous flora. Explore each terrace, full of its unique fragrant flowers. You may also encounter many different birds, lizards, and other creatures enjoying the sweet lushness of the Fort France garden.

NTREE Jardin de la Villa Fort France

©Jardin de la Villa Fort France

Find the garden at 237 Avenue Antoine de Saint Exupery, Grasse. It offers both French and English guided tours for individuals and groups of 10 to 30 people. There is ample parking available on-site. For more information, please visit their website!

Jardin de la Villa Fort France

©Jardin de la Villa Fort France

Visit the Castle in Mandelieu – La Napoule

Garden of the Château de La Napoule

The Garden of the Château de La Napoule is an unmistakable garden nestled inside a medieval fortress once owned by the eccentric American art lover Henry Clews and his wife, Marie. When they discovered the fortress’s ruins in 1918, they dedicated their lives to restoring its glory. Marie took over as an architect and landscaper, integrating towers, turreted gatehouses, ramparts, and sea view terraces. Many of her additions remain today.

Henry, the art lover, adorned columns and crevices with mythical creatures, making the gardens and fortress a truly one of a kind experience. You’ll find topiary embellishments, sweet lemon and orange trees, and lush greenery at every glance.

When you visit, both adults and children alike will be entertained. Be sure to check out Henry’s art collection at the museum, engage in a treasure hunt, take a stroll through the gardens, and stop for a coffee or glass of wine at the café.

France, Alpes Maritimes (06), Mandelieu la Napoule, chateau de la Napoule (XII-XIXe siecle)

Photo: C. MOIRENC @Côte d’Azur Tourisme

Find the garden at Boulevard Henry Clews 06210 Mandelieu-La Napoule. The Château is open every day, and tours are available throughout the year:

February 7th – November 7th:
10:00 am to 6:00 pm
November 8th to February 6th:
Weekends and school vacations: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Weekdays: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

For more information and the tour schedule, please visit their website!

Marvellous Menton

Citronneraie du mas Flofaro

La Citronneraie is a lush private garden that produces some of the tastiest lemons in the world. Many French chefs choose these lemons for their sweet pulp, often used in pastries and desserts. The gardens’ origins date back to the 16th century, when over 200 olive trees were planted. In the 1800s, a small house constructed in the traditional “Mentonnaise style” was added to the property. Covered by beautiful pergolas of wisteria and jasmine, the house was abandoned until the 1950s when it was rebuilt, maintaining its original authenticity.

Today, you can enjoy much of the original architecture nestled in an estate full of the famous lemon trees, alongside much more lush greenery. You’ll find olive trees, lemon trees, other citrus fruit like grapefruit and clementines, tropical plants, subtropical plants, and cactus. The exotic gardens welcome visitors with a pathway that leads through terraces and fountains and ends at a small pool with ample seating to sit and relax.

Visit La Citronneraie by appointment at 69, corniche Tardieu 06500 Menton. Book a private visit with groups of 8+. The garden is open all year. Please visit the website for contact information and fees.

Garden of Val Rahmeh

The Botanical Garden of Val Rahmeh in Menton is a stunning garden full of exotic plants that hail from countries worldwide. The dense foliage makes for a charming haven of tranquillity where you can take a gentle stroll to admire everything it has to offer. You’ll get to identify and enjoy all kinds of flora, from agave plants and cactus to bamboo shoots and tree ferns. There’s even a pool adorned with water lilies and lotus plants to enjoy at the far end of the garden.

Menton, Val Rahmeh

@Côte d’Azur Tourisme

The garden was named after its first owner, Sir Percy Radcliffe’s wife, Rahmeh. It was then passed on to several successive owners, including Miss Maybud Campbell, an eccentric Englishwoman who increased the park’s size while maintaining its original beauty. It was then purchased by the Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle, which turned it into a botanical garden and research centre.

Remarkable Mediterranean Gardens Coast Menton, Val Rahmeh

@Côte d’Azur Tourisme

Find the garden at Avenue Saint-Jacques, 06500 Menton. It’s open every day except Tuesdays at varying times throughout the year to visit. Adults are €7, and children over 7, students under 12, and groups of 12 people or more are €5. Children under 7 are free. For more information, please visit their website.

Serre de la Madone

Serre de la Madone began as a greenhouse, created by Lawrence Johnston, an American and British citizen who felt French. He kept the land’s original elegance, with a small Menton-style house and farm separating the agricultural area from the forest area. When you visit Serre de la Madone, you’ll find olive, fig, and peach trees, vines, arbours, and modernized cisterns throughout the property. There are tropical and sub-tropical plants galore and many inviting pathways lined with cypress trees and perfumed with sweet floral scents.

Remarkable Mediterranean Gardens Coast France, Alpes Maritimes (06), Menton, jardin Maria Serena

@Côte d’Azur Tourisme

Find the Serre de la Madone at 74, Route de Gorbio. The garden is open to enjoy year-round, except for November, December, and January 1st. From April 1st to September 31st, access is from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. From January 1st to March 31st, you can visit from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Adults are €8; students are €4, and children under 12 are free. Please visit their website for more information!

More Reasons to Visit Nice

Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden in Nice is a one-of-a-kind garden that offers a way to discover scientific, educational, ecological, and cultural facts about the area and the lush plants that inhabit it. It’s arranged as an open-air museum to enjoy plants from all over the world, allowing visitors to familiarize themselves with flora. The garden’s mission is to conserve biodiversity and transmit natural heritage.

Created in 1983, The Botanical Garden offers more than 3.5 hectares to explore, populated with over 3,000 plant species. The garden also provides a breathtaking view of the mouth of the Var and the Baie des Anges.

Find the Botanical Garden at 78, Corniche Fleurie. The garden is closed in October but is open at varying times for the remainder of the year. From November to March, you can visit from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. From April to September, the garden is open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Entrance is free, and there is ample free parking available on site. Visit the website for more information.

Parc Phoenix

Phoenix Park is the perfect destination for nature lovers, gardeners, and botanists alike. You’ll find more than 1000 species of plants, including succulents, tropical plants, aromatics, and so much more. Be sure to explore the bamboo grove, the greenhouse, and the vegetable garden! Phoenix Park is also home to more than 70 different animal species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Visitors to the park enjoy a natural balance of flora and fauna, living in complete harmony.

Parc Phoenic Metropole Nice Côte d'Azur

Parc Phoenix @Metropole Nice Côte d’Azur

Find Phoenix Park at 405, Promenade des Anglais. The park is open for visitors year-round, with winter hours (9:30 AM to 6:00 PM) ranging from October 10th to March 31st, and summer hours (9:30 AM to 7:30 PM) from April 1st to September 30th. For more information, visit their website.

Roure Art with Altitude

Arboretum Marcel Kroënlein

Arboretum Marcel Kroënlein is a serene collection of trees and nature located in Roure in the Alpes-Maritimes. It exists to support preserving the mountain ecosystem it resides in and provides a place for its scientific committee to explore. The Arboretum offers fun, educational, and cultural activities to enjoy depending on the season.

l'Arboretum Marcel Kroenlein

©JC Fraicher – Soleil Olivier Roche

Opened by Madame Michèle Ramin and Marcel Kroenlein, the Arboretum has continually flourished to the present day. It has four (4) missions:

  • Raising awareness of the preservation of the environment and the protection of the alpine heritage of the Alpes-Maritimes.
  • Training in the garden profession. A better geographical knowledge of Alpes-Maritimes.
  • Teaching artistic expression.
  • Solidarity action, integration through the transmission of knowledge, intended for people with social and professional difficulties.
l'Arboretum Marcel Kroenlein

©l’Arboretum Marcel Kroenlein

You can visit the Arboretum from June to September. There are guided tours at 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM, and 4:00 PM. Members and children are free, children’s workshops are €3, and adults are €5.

For more information, visit their website.

Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat

Garden of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

The Garden of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a whimsical, fairytale-style harden designed in the image of a ship’s deck. Enjoy walking alongside hundred-year-old olive trees, cypress hedges, and Aleppo pines, leading you towards the Temple of Love. Be sure to admire the musical fountains that spring from the large pond. There are 8 beautifully-designed gardens to appreciate, the French Garden, Spanish Garden, Florentine Garden, Stone Garden, Japanese Garden, Exotic Garden, Rose Garden and Provençal Garden.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild Fete de Roses @Culturespaces

Find the Villa at 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It’s open from September to June from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and in July and August from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Be sure to check out the tea room and cultural gift shop during your visit. For more information, visit their website.

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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