After breakfast we drove down to the scenic bridge overlooking the gorge. Unfortunately the kayaks aren’t available until May so we didn’t get to paddle down the gorge. We drove around the lake before a delicious lunch at La Bastide de Moustiers. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the town above the lake.
Leaving bright and early we drove west through agricultural fields to Roussillon where we visited the Ocre Center. We took a short hike through the ochre landscape with its brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. After buying some watercolors we drove to L’Isle sur la sorgue and caught the tail end of the Sunday market. This town is known for its antiques and we wandered through some antique shops. It was an interesting mix of French country style and mid-century modern furniture. We finished the day driving to Chateauneuf du Pape where we were staying for the next two nights.
We headed to Avignon at midday and visited the Palace of the Popes. The frescos were stunning! After wandering around Avignon for the afternoon we drove over to the Pont du Gard to see some Roman ruins.
After checking out of our hotel we drove south to Arles. Did you know it has the second largest surviving Roman arena after the colosseum? It also has an amphitheatre and the remains of a bathing complex. After a day spent in Arles we continued south to our final destination in the Camargue.
Today we rode some Camargue horses around the place we are staying where they farm Camargue cattle. We then drove over to the small town on the opposite side of the marshlands, but didn’t stay too long as there as there was an event happening in the arena. We finished the day with a local wine tasting before returning to the hotel for dinner.
After visiting Gertrude Jekyll’s house we went to Hinton Ampner. Driving up a hill you enter through walled kitchen garden to the tearoom and the house. Walking around to the face of the house there are gorgeous vistas of the surrounding countryside with sheep dotted as the landscape slopes downhill. The gardens have been terraced to deal with the slope and create long borders that one can walk back and forth winding one’s way downhill.
We arrived bright and early, and a good thing too, as people were already lining up to get in. The gardens here were a magnificent mix of hardscaping and planting. As you enter you walk around the castle, perched atop a hill. As you walk away from the castle the chapel and church are on your left with the entrance to the gardens shortly after. There is a stunning mix of tropical and traditionally British planting, everything you could want from a garden, water features, levels, walls, and a kitchen garden intermingled with perennials towards the back.
West Dean is working college as well as a garden. Entering through the shop and tea room the walled gardens are on the right full of peonies and clematis. A second walled area holds glass houses mostly being used to grow fruit. Walking across the drive there is a pergola covered with wisteria looking out on the building of the college. Then paths wind their way back and forth over a small stream to a more wild area further on.
This was a landscape designed by Capability Brown. More park than garden, the house was more interesting than the gardens as the owners collected Turner’s and other artworks. Shown here is the grand staircase and the North Gallery.
Borde Hill is a garden built around a house that has changed hands multiple times throughout its life, as such, there are lots of different designed garden areas. As you enter there are rectilinear herbaceous borders, the clematis were in full bloom when we were there. There are huge tree peonies that had already gone over as well as roses. Continuing to the front edge of the garden there is a wall with fields beyond on one side and entrances to garden rooms on the other. There is a beautiful swimming pool with the surrounding shrubs and trees giving the area a Mediterranean/African feel. After the pool is a sunken water garden with its own stand of bamboo. At one time it connected to the next area which was originally potting sheds, now ruins covered in greenery. There is even more around the backside of the house with large mature shrubs and understory trees.
Nymans was hopping! As it is a National Trust garden, anyone who is a member goes for free and it is a garden aimed towards families. You start by walking downhill and follow alongside a sheep fence line. On the right is the partial ruins of the house. As you walk through, it opens on to several connecting lawns with an Asian inspired garden to the left and the wisteria walk directly in front of you. Behind the house are the traditional walled gardens. Continuing on there is a large circular walled garden to the left and a rose garden to the right. As you approach the end of the garden there is a long double herbaceous border as you walk to the exit.
High beeches is more of a landscape than garden and there is no house attached to this property. Described as a woodland water garden you start at the top of this garden and walk down and around the brook that tumbles down the middle of this garden. Mature specimen trees and shrubs are everywhere in this landscape. This was a quieter garden that is only open in the afternoons.