Remarkable Gardens in France: Jardins Remarquables
In May 2003, the label Jardin Remarquable (Remarkable Garden) was created in order to celebrate the magnificent gardens of France.
In order to achieve the status of a Jardin Remarquable, the garden must be visually appealing to start with. However, the criteria also include natural (or seemingly natural) integration into the terrain. In addition, the chosen plants, trees, and other vegetation must be somewhat native and, in some cases, historically relevant. All gardens must be available for public viewing at least 50 days a year.
These standards ensure that the gardens meet and maintain a certain grade, as the badge is granted for a period of five years. During that period, the label can be renewed, reviewed, and revoked. The selected gardens are a combination of public, private, and protected classifications. Some of the gardens are associated with ancient sites.
There are hundreds of properties in France that have achieved the criteria, including four in Guadeloupe. The Comité des Parcs et Jardins de France maintains an extensive website, where one can search by region or other areas of interest.
One of the Provençal gardens is at the Chateau Val Joanis vineyard just outside Pertuis in the Luberon. The property met all of the requirements in 2005 and was voted ‘French Garden of the Year’ in 2008.
The vineyard is located on the site of a Roman villa. Today, the Chateau continues to bear the coat of arms of Jean de Joanis. The Chancel family started work on re-establishing the vineyard and building the garden in 1978, and the work was completed in 1990.
The project to create an 18th century garden was the vision of the current owner Cécile Chancel. The garden is designed as three distinct terraces and positioned to provide protection from the Mistral winds.
The first level is a kitchen garden full of herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees, surrounded by lavender and box hedges. The second area is filled with fruit trees trained to grow on unique frames and roses. The final section is designated for ornamental trees. There are plenty of small seating areas to sit and enjoy the surroundings.
Worth a visit!