IMG_5051Oh, the cachet of a hidden garden–un jardin caché. Even a small city like Carcassonne holds secrets that I continue to discover, and this was one of the sweetest: the garden of a marquis, hidden from a rond-point (roundabout) by high stone walls. I’d driven by since forever, not knowing a public haven awaited between an empty field used for a regular Sunday vide-grenier and the ultra-modern arts conservatory.

IMG_5048
It looks private, but you are welcome to enter. I had the place to myself. And it’s free!

IMG_5062IMG_5076IMG_5067Le Jardin du Marquis de Gonet and its château were bought by the city a little over a decade ago, and the restored gardens reopened for all in 2010. The château is planned for renovation as well, budgets permitting. One idea is to make reception halls for weddings and other events–music late into the night wouldn’t bother the neighbors because there aren’t any. Already, there’s a huge tent (seats 140) that sits in a corner when it isn’t used for the Magie de Noel, and that can be rented, with tables and chairs but without heat or air conditioning (which cost €100 more) for €400. The price might have gone up since the 2013 news article about it, but it still seems like a great deal.IMG_5069

IMG_5072
Was that once a face? Notice the certainly not safe light switch.

IMG_5070After the Revolution (1789), this area was known as le pratle pré in proper French, the prairie. Then it caught the eye of Jean-Baptiste Mary, chief surveyor, who bought it and gave the domaine the name Prat-Mary. The main part of the languedocienne-style house was built in the 18th century. The domaine was passed down until it was inherited by the Marquis de Gonet, who was from Béziers. He moved in around 1948 and stayed until he died in 2006. He was the one who planted the gardens.

IMG_5068
M for Mary.
IMG_5065
Boxwood = French garden. De Gonet created the design (better appreciated from above, I suspect) and trimmed it all himself.
IMG_5075
Boxwood–buis in French–has taken a beating between attacks by two kinds of microscopic fungi and pyrale caterpillars. They killed my own rows of topiary boxwood a few years ago. Sniff!

The local paper had a story about the maid to the de Gonets, who describes preparing the bedroom in the evening: turning down the covers on one side, laying out the nightgown on top and placing the slippers in front on the floor, perfectly parallel.

IMG_5073
Symmetry was a thing with de Gonet.
IMG_5053
Cypress trees are about as French as boxwood, no?
IMG_5061
Olive tree: check.
IMG_5074
Platane, or plane tree: check.
IMG_5057
Rows of roses, climbing and spilling fragrantly over the path: check.

IMG_5060

IMG_5058 Back in the day, the garden and its surrounding orchards were watered by the aqueduc de Pitot, which passed along the wall behind the roses. The aqueduct was built in the 18th century to bring drinking water to Carcassonne. It served until the 19th century.

Oh, to make my garden grow like this one!

 

 

Advertisements

32 thoughts on “Le Jardin Secret

  1. Not all those who wander are lost… Félicitations: a great find, and another winning story about France. Quel beau jardin ! The old château… Ah, if these walls could talk! All I had to do was take a look at cyprès-lined alleyway, and I knew I was back in southern France where I lived for many years. Thank you for the memories! Véronique

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a stunning and enchanting place. From all these miles away I can imagine myself wandering lost in meditative thought for hour upon hour. It is truly blissful and I thank you for sharing it 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t get past having to call them yards! Of course there are some beauties in both my home-places in France. And here, it is different but there is a lot of beauty – just different beauty!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so enjoyed this garden. I enjoy seeing the older gardens and what has thrived over the years. Gorgeous roses… I am dying to come to France. I have not been.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s