27th to 30th September 2019:
Gardens of Varengeville & Haute-Normandie, featuring Le Jardin Plume. A garden tour hosted by Maïté Delmas, accompanied by expert tour leader, Sophie Piebenga.
Take a long week-end in France to the garden-rich village of Varengeville-sur-Mer: one small village on the Alabaster Coast (La Côte d’Albâtre) in Upper Normandy with five exceptional gardens. Varengeville-sur-Mer, just five miles west of Dieppe, has long been popular with artists and aristocrats with strong British links just across the channel. In 1898 Sir Edwin Lutyens designed Bois des Moutiers for Guillaume Mallet and his wife, the heiress Marie-Adélaïde Grunelius. The commission changed all their lives and the profile of the village. Lutyens worked with Gertrude Jekyll on the design and planting of the gardens, this being their only French garden project. Others of influence moved to the village, met with the Mallet family, exchanged plants and ideas and started to garden. We visit three Mallet family gardens of distinction as well as Princess Sturdza’s incredible creation of Le Vasterival. We also venture away from the coast a little to enjoy Le Jardin Plume at its best in September. We will be staying at the four-star Hotel la Présidence, a bright modern hotel in old Dieppe, between the castle and the medieval gatehouse, all reserved rooms with glimpses of the sea. We dine out each night at good local restaurants with wine included.
Day 1: Friday, 27th September
We take the 08:55 Eurostar from London St Pancras to Gare de Calais-Fréthun to be met by the coach for the drive down to Normandy. We are then invited to lunch at Château de Miromesnil by Mme Romatet, the owner, who will show us the working potager and grounds of this beautiful small château. We then travel to Varengeville-sur-Mer for a special guided tour with Antoine Bouchayer-Mallet of the house and garden of Le Bois des Moutiers. Finally, we drive into Dieppe to check in at Hotel la Présidence before dining together in a local restaurant.
Day 2: Saturday, 28th September
Down a country lane on the outskirts of Varengeville we meet Robert Mallet (grandson of Guillaume Mallet) for a guided tour of Shamrock, his remarkable collection of Hydrangea (thought to be the most comprehensive in the world) thriving beneath a plantation of Paulownia trees. Just around the corner, we step into a wonderful privately-owned cottage garden before lunching at a local restaurant overlooking the sea. In the afternoon we are invited to Le Vasterival, the famous woodland garden in the Gardenesque style, created by the late Princess Greta Sturdza of Norway, now owned by her nephew and his wife, Irene who are developing a passion for the garden. Under sensitive direction and with meticulous care by a superb team of gardeners, Le Vasterival is reaching a new peak of excellence and charm. We then return to Dieppe to dine together at a local restaurant.
Day 3: Sunday, 29th September
Today, we visit two remarkable gardens in the heart of Normandy: firstly, Le Jardin Plume where rustic charm meets French formality. Owners, Patrick & Sylvie Quibel’s seven-acre garden feeatures swathes of tall grasses restrained by finely manicured, geometric hedges and vibrant, flower-filled beds at their best in late summer. Following lunch in a local inn in the pretty small town of Lyons-la-Forêt, we travel to Jardin Agapanthe, described by the owner and garden designer, Alexandre Thomas, as his laboratory, a site of ongoing research. This contemporary garden is defined by a powerful structure and rich planting designs. We then return to Dieppe to dine together in a local restaurant.r.
Day 4: Monday, 30th September
We start the day with a visit to a modern garden 25 years in the making, now described as ‘the most exciting new garden in Europe’. This beautiful woodland garden is set in a dell dramatically overlooked by the strikingly contemporary house. The passion, knowledge and enthusiasm of the owner makes this garden so very special, with his excellent eye for the placement of choice trees and shrubs on a grand scale, many selected for outstanding bark or foliage. The coach will then drive to Gare de Calais-Fréthun stopping en route to enable you to purchase your own lunch. We will arrive at Gare de Calais-Fréthun in good time to catch an afternoon Eurostar service to London, St Pancras.
How much & what’s included
The price per person: £2160
Single supplement: £200 (levied by the hotel)
The price includes: 3 nights’ accommodation at Hotel la Présidence, Mercure; 3 lunches; 3 evening meals with wine at local restaurants in Dieppe; plus, return tickets on Eurostar and all transport during the tour. If you wish to travel independently to join the tour in Dieppe, please deduct £100 and contact the office to discuss joining arrangements. All rooms face the sea and all single occupancy rooms are double-bedded.
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