During our recent trip to Provence, France, we experienced a special moment among what nature has best to offer: calm, relaxation and surprising discoveries. What made our journey unforgettable was our stay in a remarkable guest house, a gite. Gites, in France, are found mostly in rural districts and offer fully furnished holiday guest home with some amazing facilities in order to live the life as a local. We stayed at Luberon’s unique, Le jardin de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes. Located in the heart of Haute Provence, it is so much more than just a guest house. Overlooking the valley and surrounded by nature, be captivated by its facilities. Not only is there a 3-tier garden including vegetables, flowers and herbs but also a gorgeous setting such as a church and a restaurant, to celebrate your wedding in stunning Luberon.
The gardens here at l’Abbaye de Valsaintes are farmed 100% by natural gardening practice, witness the life of man with plant, mineral and fauna in perfect harmony. As the main attraction of this site is the garden, it offers visits all year long except January. Entrance fees are 7€ per person and an annual membership gives you unlimited access to the garden also with purchased discount in the boutique. The marvellous piece of land extends on 3 levels, offering a rose garden, dry garden and vegetable garden.
The rose garden provides “The Way of the Roses” which takes you to a chronological journey, a history of the rose. The spotlight is on the roses as 550 varieties of roses are available in the rich floral spaces, associated with a spontaneous or introduced flora. From May 21st to June 7th, le Jardin de l’abbaye “voit la vie en rose” as the 550 varieties are blooming. Locals flock to the establishment during this period to get a glimpse of nature at work.
The dry garden is home of 350 species and varieties of plants. This part of the garden is adapted to withstand drought and cold conditions. Along the pathways there are many stations available to picnic and lounge while admiring as well as learning about the different plant species.
The vegetable garden is found at the bottom of the park and is based on a permaculture concept. This helps promote organic farming in addition to this it beautifies the landscape and encourages bio production consumption.
With each season brings different vegetation and floral plants, the garden offers animated events such as group visits, kid’s workshop and concerts throughout the year. These events are coordinated by garden specialists who will take you through an educational guided tour. A boutique is available onsite to take home souvenirs such as local products, gift packs and a multitude of plants.
To conclude, the garden holds a certificate, delivered by the government, “Jardin Remarquable”. Moreover, an association A.R.B.R.E.S awarded one of the trees in Le Jardin de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes as “Arbre Remarquable” in 2011. It is hard to not take notice of this unusually shaped tree that protrudes out of the earth between rocks and is estimated to be 300 years old.
The garden is built on a historical land around the existing Cistercian church, dating from the 17th century, which has been recently renovated. For religious people, Gregorian chant forms part of the garden visit. Do we hear wedding bells? Jardin de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes is the perfect location to tie the knot. With the view overlooking the valley of lush forestry, the church can seat around 80 people.
A new and a very exciting venture for the Jardin de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes, is the restaurant which is currently being built. The materials used to construct the shell of the building are wood and straws to keep the harmony with the nature and the concept of the garden. The chef will use all vegetables which are produced in the garden. We are looking forward to seeing the final result as the restaurant will offer an amazing sunset view above the garden.
Finally, let’s look into what we were there for at first: why not complement your visit with a stay at the cosy residence. Choose between rooms and dormitory to spend a peaceful night at the garden.
To recap, our stay at the gite was much more than what we expected. With a romantic sunset stroll accompanied by a picnic in the garden, we enjoyed the escape into nature. The fabulous breakfast let us taste the homemade jam also available for purchase in the boutique (which we did). In addition to the positive experience, the memory which we are left with was the hospitality we received from each staff member. Special thanks to Monique, Suzanne, Sylvie and Lucie.
To learn more about Le jardin de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes, here is their official website: https://www.valsaintes.org/decouvrir-le-jardin-de-labbaye-de-valsaintes
Want to know more about what to do in Luberon national park, click on the following link to read our blog post about “2 days in Provence”:https://seaoneworld.com/2-days-in-provence-france/