Château de Montcaud is surrounded by five hectares (12 acres) of gardens and park lands. When the chateau was built in the mid 19th century, the dreamy, romantic garden was a playful, light-hearted answer to the strict, geometric designs of the current period.
Restored to its former glory
In 2016, the first time we visited the hotel in the South of France and walked through its magnificent park, we were reminded of Sleeping Beauty: uninviting, overgrown, an impenetrable jungle where you could barely make out the paths. The talented arborist Marc Brillat-Savarin helped us to bring the park back to life, as did an accidental discovery: in the midst of renovations we stumbled upon the original plans for the park from 1892.
A long road
With this lofty goal in mind, we chopped 250 cubic metres of wood, removed kilometres of brambles, opened up lines of sight and planted more than 3500 new plants. A job that, of course, is as restless as nature itself. We continuously check up on our tree population’s health, sick plants are removed and young ones are put in their place.
The whole world in one park in Provence
In his park, former silk trader and founding father of Château de Montcaud, Alexandre Eugène Collain, wanted to create an idealised version of nature. Today, we can admire his vision in all its glory: with more than 140 types of mature trees from around the world (e.g. cedar, sequoia und gingko), the park invites guests and visitors to experience a romantically glorified interpretation of nature.
Silk and Roses
On your stroll through our hotel’s park you will thus come across trees, bushes and flowers, as well as accommodating features: the basin in front of the chateau is home to lotus plants, a homage to the origin of silk in the Far East, their large leaves offering shade and refuge to koi and goldfish. The basin is surrounded by four flower beds, which house several of the more than 40 rose species to be found throughout the park.
History made of cement
Often overlooked, a historic grotto lies at the entrance of the forest, which most of the time, guests only notice when looking out of the window of their north-facing rooms. The imitation of a cave looking over a large water basin, is made of cement. Complete with a water features and stalactites, it is accessible both inside and on top. In summer the cave is pleasantly cool, reflecting its original purpose. A bridge sculpture over the basin illustrates what the cave is today: a work of art of an original French craft worthy of protection – the art of rocaille.
Scents of Provence
Provence has been famously supplying perfumeries with valuable raw materials for centuries. Oceans of lavender stretch across the landscape, filling the air with their seductive fragrance. We wanted to pay homage to the art of fragrances in the chateau hotel’s park: our jardin olfactif contains four beds of 30 square meters each that are to be filled with scented or fragrant plants which are traditionally used to make perfumes.
Southern French flavours
We don’t have to go far for our fresh herbs: it’s around 50 steps, to be exact, from the herb garden to the restaurant kitchen. Chef Matthieu Hervé can use the chateau’s lushly planted herb garden to create the unique olfactory palette that he uses every day in his delicious dishes. If you look closely, you will most likely recognise one or two of the herbs or leaves on your plate.
It is impossible to imagine the park of a hotel in Provence without three other elements, which were also already included in the original plans: a swimming pool, a boules court and a tennis court. So if you decide to spend most of your stay at the Château de Montcaud within the estate walls, you will find plenty of variety to engage your senses!