Jardins de Valloires.

Posted: September 5th, 2011 | Author: Kathryn | Filed under: garden | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Just over our southern departmental border, is the Abbaye et Jardins de Valloires. A couple of weeks ago we went to see the garden but I was secretly there to eat. All of the fruit, vegetable, herb and floral components of the dishes come from the garden and the  daily menu is inextricably linked to the season and what is flourishing in the garden on that day. I was certainly not disappointed, there were so many new flavours and textures for us to try, the use of edible flowers and root vegetables were by far the most exciting.

The garden. Although the abbey dates back to the 12th Century, the garden is a modern creation. It maintains a number of  styles and diverts from ideas normally associated with traditional French gardens. The sculpted and immaculately kept lawns, hedges and topiaries represent a traditional French garden but the floral, vegetable and shrub gardens between the lawn and the Abbey are designed in the style of an English garden, divided into beds with no borders or paths, just well maintained grass. Running the full length of the garden to the left there is a ‘naturalistic’ walkway that is a very wide path that has a massive variety of trees and shrubs, many that flower. As it is elevated above the rest of the garden you get a wonderful view of the entire design as you move along the walkway. There are over 2000 species of plant, 5000 taxa and over 200 varieties of ancient and modern rose.

The Abbaye is the only complete 12th Century cistercian abbey in France. It has had quite a tumultuous history with war and a fire that took out a large section of the building. Today the abbey is home to a group of children who live there permanently as well as a hotel which you wouldn’t know was there by the lack of obvious hospitality finishes and domestic evidence.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would recommend a visit to anyone nearby. Make sure to visit in the summer months however because the cafe is closed when vegetable production is low and without the flowers in full bloom it would not do it justice.

The inner court of the Abbey.

250 year old espaliered pear tree. The monks used to make liquor with the fruit.