One of my favorite things when on holiday is to visit gardens and last week I couldn’t resist to pay a little visit to the famous Bamboo garden in the south of France. La Bambouseraie is a private botanical garden with a focus on bamboo and a major tourist attraction in the Cévennes. It’s a bit touristy, but nonetheless more than interesting to visit and you can easily spent a half a day in this large place. The history of the bambouseraie started about 150 years ago, when Eugène Mazel began collecting bamboo and other plant species. It was him who started this garden, built the current glass houses and watergarden and planted the, now enormous, giant sequoia trees. Different owners followed after that, but all kept on working on the park and it now contains over 300 bamboo species. The park has different themed landscapes, so let’s have a look of what to expect. When we walk along the majestic sequoia and bamboo path we turn left to the Laotian village
The replica of a Laotian village is a wonderful place to learn about Asian vegetation, spices and fruits. In between the traditional replica houses you can find a real rice field, banana plantation or get educated about how bamboo is used as a building material. In some asian countries scaffolding is made of bamboo, even for bigger projects. Ever wondered how pineapples, mango’s or lemongrass grow ? You learn and see it in this part of the park. The village is built in the midst of a bamboo forest, which definitely adds to the atmosphere. When you are out of the village you continue along the sequoia path towards the old 15th century farm. Here you can take a break under the old chestnut tree and decide how to continue your journey. We went straight in the direction of the Dragon Valley.
The Dragon Valley is an addition from the year 2000, the year of the dragon. French garden architect Eric Borja used the strict Japanese garden and Feng shui rules to transform this part of the garden river valley into a zen garden. Colorful Japanese maple trees dot the banks of the river and low bamboo species cover the ground. At the end of the valley a Japanese style pavilion crosses the river and gives you a great platform to overlook the valley and the river. Now you can walk into the bamboo forest or walk back along the chinese palm path towards the farm house again. From here you can follow the signs towards the water garden and greenhouses.
The greenhouses date back to 1860, when Eugene Mazel started their construction in cast iron. The central hot house mimics a tropical atmosphere and the waterfall in the back provides the necessary humidity in this greenhouse. Plants that normally grow in the rainforest feel at home here. The colder greenhouses house a collection of cacti and flesh eating plants. In another one you can see which plants were used to colour fabrics in the times before artificial coloring. The little canal next to the glasshouses guide you towards the watergarden. This garden was restored in 2014 and houses a wide range of water plants . Also the old pergola was restored and brings some welcoming shade in the hot climate in summer. Admire the deep dark waterlilies, lotus flowers or water hyacinths. A bit further down a small collection of bonsai trees are exhibited in a japanese inspired pond.
When walking towards the exit you can have some fun exploring the bamboo labyrinth or get a nice overview of the different bamboo species in the bambusarium, an arboretum only for bamboo. You got inspired ? At the exit you can buy a really wide range of plants that are on display in the garden, or even get informed on how to use or treat the plants. We visited the garden still outside the real holiday season and I think this is the best time to visit. I can imagine the park can get crowded in the high season. But if you are on holiday in the neighbourhood, this is surely a pleasant and unique place to visit. At the entrance you can grab a interesting leaflet with all the other gardens to visit in the wide region. If you have any tips, please share them in the comment section.
La Bambouseraie : 552 rue de Montsauve, 30140 Générargues – France
Opening Hours : 9h30 – 18h from 1 to 20 March / 9h30 – 19h from 21th March to 30th September / 9h30 – 18h from 1st October to 1st November / 9h30 – 17h from 2nd to 15th November / Closed of 15th november until 26th of February included.
Entrance Fee : 10,50 euro ( different reductions available : check website)