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Brittany’s mild, maritime climate and rich, largely acid soil creates a rewarding environment for both plants and gardeners, whilst the region’s craggy coastline and plunging wooded valleys provide extraordinary microclimates and dramatic spaces in which both subtropical exotics and hardy natives flourish. Breton culture has always stood proudly apart from the French mainstream and this originality is manifest in the gardens we shall visit.
We drive westwards towards Tréguier to visit Kerdalo, recently acquired by Christian Louboutin (France’s answer to Jimmy Choo). This delightful valley garden and arboretum was created by Prince Wolkonsky, a Russian emigré with a great passion for plants, during the sixties. The garden was subsequently developed by his daughter, Kew-trained Isabelle, and her husband, the renowned garden designer and plantsman Timothy Vaughan. Tangi Rabin, Kerdalo’s new Head Gardener, will lead us through the new developments in the garden. Lunch is a short drive away at a seafood café overlooking the wonderful rocky shoreline and beach.
Continuing to Le Jardin de Pellinec, we meet Gérard Jean, a plantsman who started planting a range of tender exotics in 1997 and has gone on to create a series of interlinked gardens, each filled with a range of rare and beautiful plants from different climatic regions of the globe. Monsieur Jean takes his garden very seriously and will be impressed by the number of notebooks he sees! This evening, we dine together in the hotel restaurant.
After breakfast, we set off for Roscoff and the Jardin Exotique. Developed and planted by two gifted amateur plantsmen with a passion for southern hemisphere plants during the nineties, these much-admired gardens occupy the site of the former municipal rubbish dump. A granite outcrop overlooking the Bay of Morlaix at the heart of the garden provides not only a spectacular setting for the sub-tropical plants but also a benign microclimate, releasing daytime warmth through the night.
We continue to Roscoff harbour for the foot passenger ferry to Ile de Batz and have lunch at a local café on the island. We set off on foot after lunch – there are no cars on the island – for a 15-minute walk along sandy paths to visit the Jardin Georges Delaselle, planted over a century ago by a retired Colonial with a fondness for palms and sub-tropical plants. This offers a unique opportunity to observe the differences in both design and species assembled in today’s two gardens, separated by a century. We return to Perros Guirec for an independent evening.
We travel south to visit a private garden, Le Grand Launay, designed by the late Jean Schalit, featuring artful topiary and contemporary plantings of perennials and grasses.
We continue to La Roche Jagu, an arts and heritage centre set in a 16th-century fortress, surrounded by gardens managed for colour, wildlife and biodiversity. Lunch is followed by a short guided tour with time for independent exploration, before returning to Perros Guirec where we dine together at our hotel.
After breakfast, we depart our hotel and travel for two hours to La Château de la Ballue, arriving in time for lunch with owner Marie-Francoise Mathon, followed by a tour of the gardens. La Ballue is an immaculately presented 17th-century château, having a long association with both writers and radicals, complemented by two dramatically different gardens, each designed to stimulate the intellect as much as the eye. During the lockdowns, Mme Mathon has carved out a new garden with ponds and bog planting in the wooded valley below the château.
We then continue to Caen for our return ferry crossing to Portsmouth, departing late afternoon.
Single Room Supplement from £425.00 (5 days).
You will stay for four nights at the 4-star Grand Hotel Perros-Guirec.
Nestled in the heart of Perros-Guirec, the Grand Hôtel Perros-Guirec offers a unique coastal experience on Brittany's picturesque Granit Rose coast. The pristine Trestraou beach and the captivating Sept-Îles Archipelago form a panoramic backdrop to its elegantly designed rooms and suites, ensuring an enchanting escape.
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