Visit Les Jardins d'Eyrignac
Les Jardins d'Eyrignac is a topiary garden on a huge scale found near Sarlat in the Dordogne department. Begun in the 18th century the gardens were inspired by the Italian gardens popular at the time.
Exploring the Jardins d'Eyrignac
The most striking thing when you enter the gardens of Eyrignac is stunning tapestry of different greens that meets your eyes. It really is a verdant oasis - especially in the middle of a hot summer when surrounding land is drying out rapidly.
Covering many hectares the garden is roughly split into 5 main areas known: the Box Labyrinth; the Plant Sculptures Kingdom; the Manor and French garden; Capucine's gardens and the White Garden and Flower Meadow.
Topiary is the essence of virtualy all of these areas and range from small knot gardens, to animal shapes to the stunning avenues of tall, shaped hedges such as the magnificent Hornbeam Alley in the Plant Sculptures kingdom. Box, hornbeams, yew and even ivy are used to create the different topiaries at Eyringac. All the pruning is done using hand-shears - an incredible feat when you see the numbers of hedges to be clipped.
The Manor house is a beautiful 17th century building constructed in the local golden stone with a slate roof. It has a charming gravelled courtyard flanked by two smaller stone buildings also in golden stone with tall slate rooves. One of these was the chapel for the manor house and the other the dovecote. An attractive pond and steps up to the French-style flower beds makes this a particularly attractive part of the garden.
The white garden is a lovely addition to the French Gardens at Eyrignac and here low box hedges have been planted to make geometric patterns and within the hedging plants with white flowers fill the gaps, white roses are particularly dominant. Contrasting with this are the bright red Japanese-style structures on each of the four axes of the garden.
From the White garden you can look out over to the pretty meadow garden which is a recent addition to Eyrignac and is full of pretty annual flowers. This and the other new gardens - the Flower Garden and the Kitchen Garden in the Capucine's Gardens section are the rare parts of the garden with colour. Most of the garden is shades of green with some white flowers.
Eyrignac Garden facts:
There are 5 hectares of lawns at Eyringac.
7 natural springs as well as collected rain water provide the water needed to keep Eyrignac so lush and green. Most watering takes place overnight.
More than 80 different plant species are in the garden and over 300 plant sculptures.
There are 50,000 square meters of hedge to be trimmed and 6 full-time gardeners to do this.
The Manor and gardens have now been in the same family for over 500 years.
The gardens have been classified as a 'Jardin Remarquable'.
Every Monday night during peak season the White Garden is thrown open for Monday night picnics and dance. The entrance price is 15 euros for adults and 6 euros for 5-12 year olds and includes music (lounge, dance and chill-out), a welcome cocktail and the opportunity to explore the gardens in the fresher evening air. The gardens open at 7pm for the Monday evening visits.
Evening visits are becoming increasingly popular and several major sites in the Dordogne now offer these. Avoid the heat of the day and enjoy the different atmosphere of an evening visit.
Other sites offering evening visits are the Chateau de Hautefort on Wednesdays, Chateau de Bourdeilles on Fridays; the Chateau de Biron on Tuesdays; the Jardins de Marqueyssac on Thursdays; the Lascaux caves on Fridays; the Grotte du Grand Roc and the prehistoric shelter of Laugerie Basse on Mondays and the Cloitre de Cadouin on Wednesdays (information correct 2013).
Visiting the Jardins d'Eyrignac
The gardens are open every day including bank holidays.
January, February, March, November and December: 10.30-12.30 and 14.30 to dusk.
May to September: 9.30-19.00
Entrance: 12 euros adult, 5 euros 5-12 years and 8,50 for 13-18 year olds.
Places to visit nearby
The Jardins d'Eau de Carsac are nearby.
The beautiful town of Sarlat is well worth a visit.
Photos of Les Jardins d'Eyrignac
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