Why Visit Les Sentiers de L’Abondance a Special Garden Project in Eygalieres
On a hot July afternoon, Girl Gone Gallic and I set out to discover Provence’s pathways of abundance. The inspiration for the name of this property came from a book by French author and garden lover Adrienne Cazeilles. Les Sentiers de L’Abondance is the name of a unique garden located just over a kilometre from the village of Eygalieres, in the Alpilles.
Marie Falquet spent some of her youth in the house (Mas de Boeufs) located at the heart of this three-hectare property. The house was built in stages with some sections of the building dating to the 1500s. As was the case at the time of construction, both man and beast lived under the same roof. The livestock (cows, in this case) sheltered under a roof that offered some protection from the fierce Mistral wind or the blazing summer sun. The animals provided natural heating for the next level of the house, where the humans lived, and silk worms occupied the attic level for spinning their precious thread.
Down the hill from the old perched village of Eygalieres, this tract of arable land was once part of the adjacent Mas de la Brun property. Mas de Boeufs was the house where Marie Falquet’s mother lived. It was in a state of disrepair when Falquet began her project in 2012. Falquet’s vision was realised, after much heavy sweat labour by a full team of friends, locals and volunteers. Les Sentiers de L’Abondance first opened to the public in 2014.
The Sentiers de L’Abondance is a free-flowing garden of native Mediterranean plants. the plants are allowed to flourish in their natural environment with minimal interference. The garden is 100% organic, and fortunate to have ready access to water for natural irrigation. The group (Falquet, partners, volunteers and friends – see the list here) have constructed a garden that responds its surroundings using traditional cultivation.
Our tour of the garden took almost 2 ½ hours. This was not because of the immense size of the space, but due to Falquet’s bubbling passion for this bio-diverse area. To the first-time visitor les Sentiers de L’Abondance has a wild, untamed look. You need Falquet, or one of her team, to lead you through the pathways to understand the complexity of this environment. We discovered many kinds of basil and that wicker (osier) does not like straight lines but prefers to meander. And, that there was once an industry in St-Remy-de-Provence’s around the exportation of thistle (chardon).
During our visit to les Sentiers de L’Abondance, we saw the two secluded gypsy wagons, a wicker “igloo” and even tasted homemade lemon verbena sorbet.
Les Sentiers de L’Abondance has three gîtes (self-catered apartments) for rental. Falquet was clear that the bulk of the revenue for the garden project comes from the rentals. However, the passion comes from the environment that the team continues to build. Look for their products at the Eygalieres market on Fridays or book a tour (Wednesday afternoons March through September). Throughout the year there are workshops on basket making (vannerie), natural cosmetics, cooking with wild plants and ecological medicines.