GRASSE ROSE FESTIVAL
FRENCH RIVIERA GARDENS &
GRASSE INT'L ROSE FESTIVAL
7 Days / 6 Nights
May 2 - 8, 2021
Serre de la Madone, Fondation Ephrussi de Rothschild, Clos du Peyronnet, Hanbury Gardens (La Mortola,) Lemon Festival in Menton, International Rose Festival, La Mouissone, Villa Thuret, Exotic Gardens of Monte Carlo, Jardin Exotique d’Èze.
Day 1: Gardens Including: we travel to the historic garden of Serre de la Madone, created by American Lawrence Johnston, who travelled the world over a thirty year period seeking plants to acclimatise here among the ancient olives. Johnston was also responsible for the quintessentially English garden at Hidcote Manor and the contrast with Serre de la Madone could not be greater. This is a place of luxuriant and exotic beauty, a tropical forest planted on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Day 2: This morning, following breakfast, we will visit the Fondation Ephrussi de Rothschild at St Jean Cap Ferrat, a garden designed as a series of compartments, each reflecting a different architectural style. The villa, now a museum, contains the collections of the Baroness de Rothschild and some of the artefacts associated with Marie-Antoinette including paintings by Monet and Renoir. The gardens are exquisite, with many interesting tender plants thriving in the favourable climate, surrounded by marvellous views over the sea. Lunch will be available here (not included).
This afternoon we will continue to Jardin Exotique d’Èze. At the top of the perched village of the same name, among the ruins of an ancient castle overlooking the Mediterranean sea, the “Exotic garden of Èze” is a garden to be experienced. In the midst of several hundred species of exotic plants (cacti, aloes, agaves) the visit is an invitation to discover not only plants, but also themes and art. The different paths are punctuated with spaces where you can relax, cool down or simply immerse yourself in the light and spectacular landscapes, all set against the backdrop of one of the finest views of the French Riviera.
Day 3: Today we visit Clos du Peyronnet, the private garden of William Waterfield, which has an enviable position on the slopes above the bay of Garavan, close to the Italian border. To one side of the house is a splendid water garden, where a long canal-like pool runs at right angles to the slope. Exotic flowers and foliage press in from all sides, giving the impression of a jungle only just kept at bay. On the eastern side of the garden is the specialist collection of rare bulbs, William Waterfield’s passion, with over 200 species.
In the afternoon we visit the gardens of La Mortola (also known as the Hanbury Gardens) just across the border in Italy. Now over a hundred years old, the garden was named after the thickets of wild myrtle on the rocky shore and was planted by Sir Thomas Hanbury, after 1867. It was planned as a botanic collection of outstanding interest and tender exotics from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America were planted and flourished. La Mortola is perhaps the greatest of Riviera Gardens - great in its accumulated years, the richness of its collections, the power of its presence on all who behold it, and not least in the impact it has had all over the French Riviera.
Day 4: Today following breakfast we transfer to Menton, where you are free to enjoy the Lemon Festival in Menton, a truly magical event filled with colour and imagination. Fruity floats depicting everything from Buddhas to coconut groves glide down the "Promenade du Soleil" and there will be music sets from Brazilian bands, folkloric groups and dance and majorette troops marching between the floats.
What was once a few carts loaded with orange and lemon trees in the early 1930s has turned into a sprawling citrus carnival attracting more than 200,000 people from across the world.
Day 5: This morning we depart for the Cap d’Antibes and a visit to the Villa Thuret. A botanist and expert on seaweeds, Gustav Thuret lived here and over a period of twenty years he amassed a collection of rare plants – among them the first eucalyptus to be planted on the Côte d’Azur. The interest of the place lies in the great collection of tender woody plants, some 3000 species, which are grown here. In four acres of exotic jungle the visitor may wander at will studying plants rarely seen in any other European collection.
We continue to the garden of La Mouissone, to the east of Grasse. The property is almost unique in this area in being distributed across the slopes of a hillside below le Bois de la Marbrière, with panoramic views of the coast. Spread over three hectares with 250 productive olive trees, the gardens reflect the attributes and restrictions presented by the terrain and the Mediterranean climate. There are tailored lawns and beds around the houses, and wilder grassland and woodland areas on the outskirts. You can also explore the shady bamboo garden, the prairie style garden and woodland walk.
This afternoon we head to the village of St Paul de Vence, which has been a haven to writers and artists over the years, including Marc Chagall who is buried in the village cemetery. Within the narrow cobbled streets there are countless art galleries and studios and the viewpoint at the south end of the village offers a memorable panorama. Here there will be an opportunity for lunch.
Day 6: This morning we check out of our hotel and depart for Monaco where we will visit the Exotic Gardens of Monte Carlo. This fascinating garden specialises almost exclusively in succulent plants, making it a prickly paradise for cactus lovers. On a high rocky cliff overlooking the Royal Palace, paths zig-zag downwards through canyons of cacti with extraordinary views of the plants rearing up above you.