Gardens of Varengeville
An exclusive TELEGRAPH weekend in France
hosted by gardens correspondent, HELEN YEMM
& led by Patience Shone
One small French 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, and a new, very private woodland garden of great merit. We will be staying at the four-star Hotel la Présidence, a bright modern hotel in the old part of Dieppe between the castle and the medieval gatehouse. All rooms for our party overlook the sea: we dine out each night at good local restaurants (with wine included) in the delightful town of Dieppe
Day 1: Friday, September 22
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 Rometet, the owner, who will show us the working potager and grounds of this beautiful small château. Following lunch, we travel to Varengeville-sur-Mer for a special guided tour with Antoine Bouchayer-Mallet of the house and garden of Le Bois des Moutiers. We then drive into Dieppe to check in at Hotel La Presidence before a short walk to a local restaurant where we dine together.
Day 2: Saturday, September 23
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 the wonderful cottage garden of Le Clos Normand created by Madame Constance Kargère, (another grandchild of Guillaume Mallet). After lunch in a local restaurant overlooking the sea 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 is 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. Return to Dieppe to dine together in a local restaurant overlooking the old port.
Day 3: Sunday, September 24
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 the 16:01 Eurostar arriving at London, St Pancras at 16:05 UK time.
How much & what's included:
The price per person: £1685.
Single supplement: £80 (levied by the hotel).
The price includes: 2 nights’ accommodation at Hotel la Présidence; 2 lunches, 2 evening meals with wine at local restaurants in Dieppe; plus return tickets on Eurostar and all transport during the tour. If you wish to take the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe please deduct £90 from the tour price and contact the office to discuss joining arrangements. All hotel rooms on hold have sea views.
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