Gardens of Brittany
- September 6 - 14, 2023
- $4,675 USD per person
- Visit France's garden coast to immerse yourself in elegant château gardens, lush botanical havens, and sub-tropical Edens. Experience romantic Jardin de Kerdalo. Revel in enchanting exotic vignettes at Le Jardin de Pellinec. Embrace the crisp topiaries at Château de La Balue, renowned as one of the most beautiful gardens in France.
The tour exceeded all my expectations and was an absolutely wonderful experience. To have such a knowledgeable & helpful guide was a dream come true. I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a fulfilling experience. The beautiful countryside and gardens left such an impression on me that when I got home, my mind was filled with their beauty and I felt as if I were under the influence of some sort of euphoric drug.
2022 Tour Member
Gardens of Brittany
September 6 - 14, 2023
Welcome to our garden tour of Brittany, the far western French peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean. Renowned for its quaint medieval villages, lush forests, and scenic coastline, Brittany's distinct character is further enriched by its fiercely independent people and Celtic-influenced culture. On this tour, we delve into enchanting private gardens of the region, most often designed by their passionate owners. The area's mild maritime climate provided by the Gulf Stream and its acidic soils create an ideal environment for gardens to flourish. We will see exotic plants from across the globe since these sites showcase an extraordinary variety of flora. Moreover, the dramatic craggy coastline and undulating wooded valleys foster microclimates and provide stunning vistas. Come with us on this delightful journey to uncover the beauty and originality of the gardens of Brittany.
September 6, Wednesday – Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
September 7, Thursday – Château de Saint-Jean de Beauregard
September 8, Friday – Château de La Ballue, Parc Botanique de Haute Bretagne
September 9, Saturday – Jardins de Kerdalo, Les Jardins de Kerfouler, Free Time
September 10, Sunday – Domaine du Kestellic, Le Jardin de Pellinec
September 11, Monday – Jardin Exotique de Roscoff, Jardin Georges Delaselle
September 12, Tuesday – Un Jardin à Landrevarzec, Jardin Kerial
September 13, Wednesday – Depart or continue travels
CarexTours strives to operate according to our published itinerary. However, adjustments may be necessary if unforeseen circumstances beyond our control occur or opportunities arise that would enhance the itinerary.
Day 1, September 6, Wednesday -- Arrive in France
- Tour members independently arrange travel to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, make their way to the Sheraton Paris Airport Hotel & Conference Centre, and check into the room booked for them (included in the tour price). We'll gather in the hotel restaurant at 6:30 PM for a Welcome Dinner (included).
Day 2, September 7, Thursday -- CHÂTEAU DE SAINT-JEAN BEAUREGARD
- We start our week together by visiting the gardens at Château de Saint-Jean de Beauregard, tucked away in a serene woodland just 30 minutes south of Paris. This splendid castle was constructed in the 18th century and boasted a collection of courtyards, outbuildings, stables, and a moat. For the past 40 years, the estate's elegant gardens have been lovingly maintained by its devoted owner, Muriel de Curel, who is now 80. Among the highlights is the formal 5-acre walled potager, meticulously arranged into symmetrical quarters. This verdant space brims with vibrant dahlias, annuals, and an array of vegetables, including some rare varieties. The estate also features a greenhouse for growing grapes and a lush orchard. These charming gardens provide an ideal starting point for our tour, setting the stage for a week of unforgettable gardens. We’ll have lunch in the garden restaurant (not included) before leaving.
- This afternoon we journey to Rennes, the capital city of Brittany, and check into Le Saint-Antoine Hotel & Spa for 3 nights. We’ll have dinner together in a local restaurant TDB (included).
Day 3, September 8, Friday -- CHÂTEAU DE LA BALLUE, PARC BOTANIQUE DE HAUTE BRETAGNE
- We begin our day by meandering through the impeccable formal garden at Château de La Balue, a contemporary take on theatrical topiary gardens in the Baroque Mannerist style. The garden features 13 asymmetrically arranged rooms, each with sculptures and surprises, interconnected by intriguing pathways. As we approach the back of the château, we will see a picture-perfect geometric parterre overlooking an agricultural valley. The garden, with origins dating back to the 1600s, has experienced periods of both neglect and rejuvenation. Its latest transformation occurred at the end of the 20th century when Marie-Françoise Mathiot-Mathon acquired the property. Today, Château de La Balue's garden is often celebrated as one of the most beautiful gardens in France. It has garnered awards, including the 2nd Prize for Best Development of a Historic Park or Garden in 2017-2018 and the prestigious Les Jardins Remarquables designation. This enchanting garden promises an excellent start to our day. We’ll have lunch in the Tea Room (not included) before going to our afternoon garden.
- This afternoon, prepare to be captivated by Parc Botanique Haute Bretagne, a 62-acre horticultural haven surrounding the 1836 Château de la Foltière. Since 1994, owner and designer Alain Jouno has masterfully crafted 24 themed gardens, drawing inspiration from poetry, travel, and garden history. These beautiful spaces are divided into three distinct concept areas: Arcadia, Romantic, and Twilight, each exuding its unique atmosphere and style. The "Garden of the Rising Sun" is particularly noteworthy, blending Japanese elements of a Stroll Garden, Zen Garden, and Tea Garden to create a mesmerizing ambiance. Home to over 7,000 botanical species from all over the world, the park offers a rich tapestry of exotic and familiar plants.
- We return to our hotel for the night and come together for dinner in another local restaurant TBD (included).
Day 4, September 9, Saturday -- JARDINS DE KERDALO, LES JARDINS DE KERFOULER, FREE TIME IN RENNES
- This morning, we travel to the enchanting Jardins de Kerdalo, a 42-acre masterpiece crafted by Russian Prince Peter Wolkonsky, an artist. His family fled to France before the 1917 revolution. Still, it wasn’t until 1965 that he found a run-down farm nestled within a valley leading to the River Jaudy that he made this amateur plantsman's garden, reminiscent of those found in England. At age 65, Wolkonsky transformed a derelict stone farmhouse into a charming residence and created a terraced garden close to the house that extends into a woodland valley garden, featuring ponds, cascades, a water staircase, a grotto, pavilions, and seashell bas-reliefs. Home to an array of acid-loving trees, shrubs, and exotic plants, the garden is a harmonious blend of botanic and romantic elements, as described by the prince himself. Upon his death in 1997, the garden was restored by his daughter Isabelle and her husband Timothy, both trained horticulturalists. In 2021, the garden was acquired by shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who intends to preserve its original design. It was recognized as a "Remarkable Garden" in 2005.
- Before exploring the garden, we’ll have lunch at our next destination, Jardins de Kerfouler. Designed by Dutch owners Erwin and Anneke Van Nuland, who discovered the beauty of Brittany while on vacations in the region, the garden is continually evolving. Former flower shop owners in the Netherlands, the couple embarked on a new adventure in 2011, transforming an old farm into a multifaceted garden. Jardins de Kerfouler features 20 atmospheric garden rooms, each offering a glimpse into various landscapes from around the world. It showcases multiple styles, from modern and artistic to classical, natural, and romantic. We’ll wander through the themed rooms filled with trees, rare vegetables, vibrant perennials, swaying grasses, and occasionally amusing surprises. Awarded the prestigious "Jardin Remarquable" label, Jardins de Kerfouler is sure to inspire.
- We return to our hotel. For the rest of the day, you are free to explore Rennes. You can stroll the cobbled streets of the medieval district and admire the half-timbered houses with intriguing carvings on the walls and doors. History buffs can visit the Museum of Brittany, where you can hear Breton spoken and explore Brittany’s history and culture. Shopping enthusiasts can scout boutiques to find that very special souvenir. Dinner this evening is at a Rennes restaurant of your choice (not included). Reservations may be necessary.
Day 5, September 10, Sunday -- DOMAINE DU KESTELLIC, LE JARDIN DE PELLINEC
- This morning, we visit Domaine du Kestellic, a striking manor house of pink granite built in 1901, nestled in a loop of the River Jaudy and perched 160 feet above it, across from Jardins de Kerdalo. Although the property was first developed in the 19th-century, the garden as we see it today was established in the 1970s by Yan de Keroüartz, an agronomist, and later continued by his son Gaël upon Yan's passing in 1995. In 2020, Guirec Maréchalthe acquired the estate. This unique 17-acre garden has three distinct areas reflecting Mediterranean, humid, and temperate climates. Its steep terrain has led some to call it a "hanging garden." It features fountains, waterfalls, streams, and lakes throughout. Home to an exuberant diversity of more than 1,800 plant species from Australia, California, Argentina, Taiwan, Nepal, and the Mediterranean, Domaine du Kestellic offers an extraordinary display of flora, including gigantic tree ferns, Japanese maples, and a tea field.
- Our next garden is Le Jardin de Pellinec, a 17-acre garden around a 17th-century manor house purchased by Gérard Jean in 1997. Jean designed the garden using the remnants of an earlier garden, traversing the site with berms and lawn paths that gently descend towards picturesque Pellinec Bay. The garden's layout considers the variations in soil, exposure, and drainage, resulting in distinct themed areas such as the Exotic, Southern, English Garden, Himalayan Alley, and Water Lily Pond. With a keen eye for color and plant shapes, Jean composes striking graphic displays. In 2013, the garden was awarded the prestigious "Jardin Remarquable" status and was chosen to represent Brittany as a "Jardin préféré des français" the same year. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the captivating beauty of this horticultural gem.
- We check into the Hostellerie de la Pointe Saint Mathieu on the Celtic Sea for three nights. Dinner this evening is in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant (included).
Day 6, September 11, Monday -- JARDIN EXOTIQUE DE ROSCOFF, JARDIN GEORGES DELASELLE
- First today, we visit Jardin Exotique de Roscoff, a 4-acre collector's garden established in 1986 by Daniel Person and Louis Kerdilès, two local gardeners and sub-tropical plant enthusiasts. The town government supplied the land, which includes a dramatic 60-foot granite outcrop called Roc d'Hievec. Winding paths lead through the collection of 3,400 plant species, flora from the southern hemisphere, Atlantic islands, cacti from Mexico, and palm trees from China. With its vibrant colors and showy displays interspersed with fish pools and cascading waterfalls, Jardin Exotique de Roscoff is a visual feast allowing us an immersive experience with these unusual plants.
- Jardin Georges Delaselle is located on the small Isle of Batz, just a short ferry ride from Roscoff. We’ll have lunch on the island before walking to our destination. The garden was laid out in 1897 by Georges Delaselle, a Parisian businessman. Since the site opened to the sea, Delaselle made a group of artificial dunes by excavating a large area of the garden to a depth of 14 feet to protect his plantings from fierce ocean winds. He then spent the next 40 years filling it with several thousand exotic species from all continents in a restful and contemplative style. The garden includes a labyrinth, a Bronze Age burial site discovered during the excavations, and contemporary sculptures. After Delaselle died in 1944 at 83 with no successor to take over his garden, the garden was abandoned for forty years until a team of volunteers decided to revive it in 1987.
- We return to our hotel for the night and gather for dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Day 7, September 12, Tuesday -- UN JARDIN À LANDREVAREC, JARDIN KERIAL
- We start the final tour day at Un Jardin à Landrévarzec, a four-acre haven of tranquility that began in 2007. The brainchild of Vincent Abolivier and Pascal L'Hermitte, the owners, the garden was created with the help of family and neighbors and opened to the public in 2018. Winding paths meander through garden areas, including a potager, a Japanese-style garden, a field of sunflowers, a meadow, and ponds and streams. Gentle sounds of moving water, breezes, and birdsong create a calming atmosphere, while the garden flowers' vivid colors and fragrances entice the senses. We’ll lunch at an inn on our way to our afternoon garden.
- The final garden on our itinerary is Jardin Kerial, a half-acre Anglo-Japanese garden, the passion project of owner, plantsman, and daylily hybridizer Guénolé Savina. With a fondness for perennials and grasses, Savina masterfully integrates his cherished plants into a harmonious composition, often using stone walls and accents of rocks, decorative gravel, and Japanese garden objects. As an adventurous horticulturist, Savina continually seeks fresh ways to pair his stunning "Breizh" and "Keriel" daylilies with other plants to create a visually dynamic garden experience.
- We return to the Hostellerie for the last night and come together for a Farewell Dinner (included) in the hotel restaurant.
Day 8, September 13, Wednesday -- DEPARTURE
- Our time together ends, but garden lovers will likely find inspiration wherever they are. Tour members can choose to return home or carry on the adventure.
- We’ll provide coach transfer to Brest Bretagne Airport at 7:00 AM for those with flights leaving at 9:00 AM or later. Or you may take a taxi on your own (approximately €95/$105) at your chosen time.