Joan Larsen’s Hidden Wonders: The “Must-See” French Gardens of Marqueyssac

Posted on July 19, 2017


by Joan Larsen


The French are good at keeping secrets.   .  . and it has taken me years to discover France’s southwest region of Dordogne with its spectacular panoramas in every direction.  But it is here that one of the most beautiful and romantic gardens of France is located.

Sitting high above the Dordogne River, the hanging gardens of Marqueyssac happen to be listed as the top of France’s ‘Jardins Remarquable’ – with good reason.  For these gardens of Marqueyssac castle consist of over six miles of shaded walkways, edged by 150,000 hand-pruned, one hundred year old box-trees that have to be seen to be believed.

There are only four gardening employees of the estate who carefully sculpt the box trees in curves to mimic the roundness of the surrounding hills.  And actually, it can be thoroughly enjoyable to get lost along the winding paths of this green labyrinth.

The three walkways lead to belvederes over the river far below, rockeries, waterways, grassy clearings, dry-stone huts, a rotunda, and an almost hidden Gothic chapel, covered in greenery.

There is so much history here.  The chateau itself was built by the counselor to Louis XIV. However, the terraces, the forests of linden, cypress, and stone pine trees were designed by Julian de Cervel in the 1860s for his own personal enjoyment, to write poems in this romantic site – one dominated by a soft, fresh green perfume of the box-trees, rosemary and lavender.  And yes, the lush fragrance remains today.

We found ourselves spending the day there, dining leisurely in the chateau, and discovering that it is open into the evening year round — with an exciting array of very special moments that will make the gardens and chateau of Marqueyssac sure to leave a special place in your memory forever.



Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth.  But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again.  She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”