Gardens of Normandy – Jardin François
Préaux du Perche
Le Jardin François is a garden in the Perche region of south-east Normandy; it is spread over 2 hectares with a whole range of different habitats including wildlife friendly ponds, an “acid-lovers” area of rhododendrons and azaleas, and a large rose garden. The whole garden is tended by Roselyne and Gérard François.
The central part of the Jardin François surrounds three public buildings (including the ticket office) and a small amphitheatre which are hired out for concerts, exhibitions and other events throughout the year. This area has a blue-themed planting design on the lower part and features a stream running down from a pond at the highest part, past the buildings and under an unusually styled bridge in red painted ironwork.
The Jardin François is packed with a huge variety of flowering plants and shrubs, one of the highlights being the rose garden (best in its first full flush, usually late June).
It is open all year, from sunrise to sunset, but is better seen at some times of year than others – the previous time we visited it in late summer, 2 years ago, it appeared that the garden had been left to its own devices.
On this occasion in late April the garden was much better presented, the azaleas and rhododendrons near the entrance being truly spectacular and the blue planting in the central part fresh and vivid.
The Jardin François is near to a number of other gardens, including the Parc du Château de Lorière at La Rouge and the garden of La Petite Rochelle at Rémalard. We visited both the Jardin François and La Petite Rochelle on the same afternoon before returning to the B&B to greet guests that evening..
Open all year round from sunrise to sunset (in theory – we tend to visit at a civilised hour). The garden is open late until 11pm on Fridays, when it is illuminated.
Entry for adults is 6€ in 2011, free for children under 12. Included in the price is a drink of cider or juice.
If you’re looking for accommodation in south-east Normandy, the route shown is from our B&B on the border of Normandy and Pays de la Loire. We are less than 25 miles (in practice, 40 minutes) from Préaux du Perche and Jardin François by car.