Deep in the heart of the rural countryside of Nord, Hauts de France, lies an extraordinary garden. The Jardins du Mont des Récollets is an award winning garden with spectacular views in a most beautiful part of northern France…
Owner and gardener extraordinaire Emmanuel de Quillacq took over what was his grandfather’s farm, in 1986. Having always worked in an office, he developed an overwhelming passion for the glorious countryside and the town of Cassel. After studying at the famous Versailles school of gardening, in 1990 he started work on the garden and since then has devoted his life into turning the once neglected farmland into a fabulous garden that visitors fall head over heels for.
A Flemish garden like a Breugel painting
You enter via an alley of apple trees to discover a grand “room” of topiary, of hydrangeas, roses, wild meadow flowers. There are 15 “rooms” in the garden, they are of all different styles but flow effortlessly, one to the other. You can’t help but think it looks a bit like something out of a Breugel painting. “It’s Flemish renaissance” says Emmanuel, “that’s what inspired me and drives the design, over time the style has slowly evolved…”
The view from the garden over the surrounding countryside is breathtakingly beautiful. “When I first saw this place, it reminded me of Breughel’s painting the Hunters in the Snow” says the green fingered Emmanuel, and if you see the painting, you’ll see what he means. “It’s like a window on nature here, framing a different view every single day.” Indeed, there are windows cut into hedges all over the place offering a different perspective on the landscape. It’s said that on a clear day you can see the English coast from here and the Belfry of Bruges!
Topiary, hazel, viburnum and hawthorn all feature in this Flemish style country garden. In spring there are hundreds of bulbs in flower, in summer the landscape is rich and brightly coloured, in autumn the garden turns shades of gold, red and orange. The planting compositions are intriguing, gentle and charming but also surprising and vibrant. Allow 1-2 hours to explore the 1.5 hectare gardens and majestic, incredible views.
Oodles of charm, a quirky café and a captivating country oasis
The magnificent garden is peaceful, lush and beautiful, and was voted favourite garden of the French in 2011.
You can take a break at the little café which is full of charm – as well as artifacts of yesteryear. Lunch is of the traditional Flemish style, made with local products and fruit from the garden and is open daily through July and August, at other times by appointment for groups.
Visiting times and details: Open from 10 April to 15 October. Details of opening times and tickets can be found here: www.parcsetjardins.fr/jardins/626-jardins-du-mont-des-recollets
Cassel is about an hour’s drive from Calais, and thirty minutes from the lovely market town of Saint Omer.
Discover more great things to do and see in the area: www.tourisme-nordpasdecalais.fr