Laid out on a rocky spur overlooking the Dordogne Valley between La Roque-Gageac and Beynac, the Marqueyssac gardens cover an area of 22ha.
The charm of the terrace gardens has delighted its visitors for the last three centuries and there is no doubt that Marqueyssac has become one of France’s most beautiful Italian-style gardens.
The gardens of Marqueyssac castle consist of over six kilometres of shaded alleys, edged by 150,000 hand-pruned, one hundred year-old box-trees, and adorned with belvederes, rockeries, waterways, grassy clearings, dry-stone huts, rotunda, a Gothic chapel, and playgrounds for the children.
In front of the 18th century chateau, the main terrace is arranged in a geometric pattern which symbolises the symmetry of the two main bodies of the castle. Built with great simplicity, the chateau is topped by a roof made of ‘lauze’ (limestone slabs), typical of Périgord, and weighing more than 500 tonnes.
The spectacular bastion terrace is made up of numerous box-trees carefully pruned by the four gardening employees of the estate, with cypress trees also giving structure to the landscape. The box-trees are all sculpted in curves to mimic the roundness of the surrounding hills and it can be rather enjoyable to get lost along the winding paths of this green labyrinth.
Once past the bastion terrace, you have the choice of three walkways through the Holm oak woods, all leading to the belvedere. There, box-trees are left to grow more freely and various side pathways allow walkers to move from one track to another on the way to the belvedere.
Tom Cooper | Elite.