Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

Categories: Design and Architecture | Europe

Etretat Gardens is a park located in Normandy, in the north-west of France. This place is considered not just a masterpiece of landscape art, but also a real wonder of the world. The area of the park is only 2 hectares, but in this small area there is a collection of natural and man-made wonders.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

The amazing park owes its appearance in many ways to the great French artist Claude Monet. He was not only one of the founding fathers of Impressionism, but also a passionate gardener. When in 1903 the Parisian actress Madame Thibault decided to set up a park, Monet became one of her inspirations.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

Madame Thibault hired a local gardener, Auguste Lecan, to implement her project. But it was Claude Monet who created the concept of the park, which has survived to this day. For planting trees, they chose an unusual place with a beautiful name Cote d'albatre. These are picturesque alabaster rocks located on the coast of Normandy. The vegetation in this place was stunted and monotonous, but this did not stop the enthusiasts.

Thanks to the skill of the gardener Lekan, the white cliffs soon turned green, making the natural miracle even more spectacular. Simultaneously with the work on the park, Madame Thibault's country house was being built. The hostess named it "Villa Roxelan", in honor of the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent — Ukrainian Roxolana. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the romantic love story of the world's greatest monarch and a simple concubine was very popular in France.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

Flower beds were laid out near the villa, and greenhouses were built. In them, the actress kept the best collection of orchids in the country, and maybe in the whole of Europe. The woman told her guests that these flowers personify the wives and concubines of the sultan's harem. Interestingly, it was Thibault who became the best performer of the theatrical role of Roxolana in France. It is possible that it was the Etretat gardens, imbued with an oriental spirit, that helped her get used to a difficult image for a Frenchwoman.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

The creation of Etretat Gardens took several years. When everything was ready, the first visitors were amazed by the natural naturalness and at the same time the strict orderliness of the park. Lecan carefully selected trees, shrubs and even herbs to organically fit his man-made brainchild into the harsh Norman landscape.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

The main terrace of the park is located on the sheer cliff d'Amont, which offers a fantastic view of the English Channel. Claude Monet was the first to choose this place. Later, other artists began to visit here, including the Impressionists Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse. Thus, from the very beginning, the Etretat Gardens gained fame as a creative location.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

Nowadays, the park has fallen into reliable hands. One of the best landscape designers of the planet Alexander Grivko is engaged in its preservation and development. He not only carefully preserved the creative component of the gardens, but also multiplied it. The renovated park opened to visitors in 2017. The work on it brought the designer the prize of the European Garden Award 2019 in the nomination "The best restoration of the historical garden".

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

Now the park is divided into several thematic zones. One of them is called "Emotions and the bottom of the ocean". Grivko was inspired to create it by oyster farms, which Normandy has long been famous for. The zone is decorated with shells from shrubs — evergreen boxwood and enkianthus japonica. Among the plants there are sculptures in the form of faces expressing different emotions. They have a secret — their faces are mobile and their expressions change!

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

There are a lot of unusual, strange and even crazy things in the park. How do you like, for example, this tree with a huge key? This is not just a spectacular installation, but a real music box implanted in the trunk. The composition is called "Clockwork Forest", and it was created by London artists from the Grey World team.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

And this creepy art object is called "The queue for the last tree". It was created especially for the Etretat gardens by the sculptor Viktor Shostalo. The figure does not always stand at the trunk of a beech tree — she often goes "on tour" around the world.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

These unusual massive benches were presented to Etretat Gardens by German designer Thomas Roesler. They are the only ones of their kind, as they are carved from a fossilized fossil oak.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

There was also a place in the park for the first mastermind of the project — Claude Monet. His wicker figure adorns the most popular observation deck of the Etretat Gardens. Naturally, the impressionist is depicted at work — he seems to be painting from nature the alabaster rocks opposite.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

But not only the works of modern sculptors adorn the park. Alexander Grivko managed to restore Madame Thibault's orchid collection using her notes, drawings and photos.

Etretat Gardens is an amazing and crazy place, imbued with the spirit of creativity

Etretat Gardens are protected by UNESCO and every tree and bush is protected here. Tens of thousands of tourists visit the park every year. Guests are attracted not only by the beauty of nature and art objects, but also by festivals that have been held here regularly for many years.

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