The Jardin Exotique d’Eze, also called the Jardin Botanique d’Eze, is an extraordinary botanical garden seemingly hanging between the sky and the sea in Eze in the far south-east corner of France, on the Côte d’Azur, just above Monaco.
The garden, created after World War II in the ruins of the town’s castle by town mayor André Gianton and Jean Gastaud of the Jardin Exotique de Monaco, is located on the steep hillside of the perched medieval village of Eze. From its height at just over 400 meters, it offers breathtaking panoramic views plunging dramatically down to the shining azure sea, along the coast from Italy to St Tropez and even out to Corsica on a clear day. Owing to its dry, warm and sunny orientation the plants are comprised mainly of impressive cacti and succulents from the Mediterranean region, Africa and the Americas….
The garden is not only about plants however as it is punctuated with places to relax and places to reflect upon art. Stylish pathways weave around the cliffside and below the castle ruins lies a quiet contemplative space beautifully designed to chill out and luxuriate in the phenomenal view. Water mirrors, vaporisers and a small waterfall cool the arid atmosphere during the hot summer months and simply look pretty out of season.
You’ll find ergonomic teak beds to lounge on and when I visited with my son we lay back and indulged in a moment of pure relaxation, immersing ourselves in the silence and unbeatable views. We were lucky as we were alone, I don’t suppose we would have been in July or August. The park is peppered with elegant sculptures of Earth Goddesses by Jean-Philippe Richard which coexist in harmony with the exotic aloes, agaves and cacti high above the Mediterranean sea. My 9 year old and I really enjoyed getting lost in the myriad of twisting paths, suddenly coming across a lovely statue or unusual bench, or just another staggering view.
“From the sun I learned this: when it goes down, it pours gold into the sea out of inexhaustible riches, so that even the poorest fisherman still rows with golden oars. For this I once saw and I did not tire of my tears as I watched it.” Moving words by Nietzsche (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) inspired by the view from what is now the Jardin Exotique. Fine endorsement indeed, if Nietzsche did not tire of this view then how can we?
I visited the garden on a sublimely beautiful late autumn day in November and my photos were all taken then. I’d love to go back in spring to smell the jasmin and summer to see the bougainvillea but I think you’ll agree that even late in the year it’s a stupendous place to be. The village of Eze is impressive in its own right but what makes it unique is le jardin. It is unfortunately a little on the pricey side I think at 6€ (2.50€ for students, free for under 11s) but nevertheless worth it and a gorgeous day out from Lou Messugo.
Have you been to Eze or visited any other unusual gardens recently?
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