The third time is a charm. Well, the garden is charming and on my third trip to Cap d'Antibes, I finally visited Le Jardin Botanique de la Villa Thuret. This is not a "oh my, look at all those colorful flowers" kind of place. This garden, created in 1857 by scientist Gustave Thuret, is a collection of exotic Mediterranean trees and shrubs. The garden will intrigue those with a keen interest in botany or offer tranquility to those simply looking for a lush place to stroll.
There are "2500 individuals belonging to 1600 wild species and 145 botanical families." Every year, another 200 new species are introduced in this five acre garden. Newly-introduced plants are tested for their ability to adapt to the volcanic soil and local climate conditions. The new plants are watered for two years and only during extremely dry summers. Dead plant matter is left to drop and add humus to the soil. There's no mulching or mowing as wildflowers dot through clover and grass. Only the gravel paths are maintained to allow visitor access.
Being an American and accustomed to "staying on the path" I didn't venture into the grassy meadows to read the labels on the shrubs and flowers, such as peonies, agapanthus, clivia and crocosmia—nor all the plants that I can't identify! Given that we were the only visitors and everyone else had clipboards with eyes focused intensely on the plants, I had no clue as to the proper protocol.
We weren't even sure if we were supposed to pay an admission fee. We walked into the open gates and saw no ticket stand. Since no one chased us down and demanded Euros, we assume that there was no charge.
For a lovely, sunny day, a leisurely stroll through the gardens was worth the trip to Cap d'Antibes.
To find Jardin Thuret from the town of Antibes, we headed west along the promenade at Ponteil. We crossed Boulevard James Wylie to follow Boulevard du Cap to Chemin Raymond. There is also an Enviro-bus that makes a circuit through the area for 1 Euro. The garden is closed on Saturday, Sunday and some holidays. Verify through the website.
April 3, 2012
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