The Gardens of the Abbaye de Valloires landscaped by Gilles Clément
The Jardins de Valloires at Argoules extend over 8 hectares at the foot of the Cistercian abbey which is the only complete one in France. The gardens were designed by the famous landscape gardener Gilles Clément, who created the Parc André Citroën in Paris, and feature more than 5,000 species and varieties of plants. My favourite time to visit is spring when Nature is waking up, Japanese cherry trees in blossom form a dreamy, hazy, white arched walkway and crocuses, daffodils and narcissi are poking their heads up through the ground.
I recommend visiting the Garden of 5 Senses with all the family where children can learn to recognise the colours of roses and peonies, listen to the dance of the bamboos, smell the fragrant mint, touch the bark of trees and soft velvety leaves and taste forgotten fruits.
The rose garden is quite simply splendid. It represents the abbey cloister in plant form. The gardens have seen the creation of many roses : the famous rose of Picardy, of course, but also the Jardins de Valloires rose named by Catherine Deneuve.
Autumn is also a special time to visit the gardens, especially the Jardin des Iles, when the leaves turn to brown, ochre and red and the Fete de la Citrouille (Pumpkin Festival) takes place.
Don’t miss the Grand Jardin de l’Evolution which traces the history of plants over 400 million years, and the Jardin de Marais whose wild atmosphere recalls that of the nearby River Authie.
Gastronomy at the Jardins de l'Abbaye de Valloires
What to see and do near the Jardins de l'Abbaye de Valloires
The abbey and gardens of Valloires are at the heart of the valley of the River Authie which rises at Coigneux in the Somme region and flows into the sea between Fort-Mahon and Berck, forming a natural boundary between the départements of Pas-de-Calais and Somme. This leafy valley is a lovely place for walks.
Discover : Moulin de Maintenay which still produces flour, Nampont-Saint-Martin golf course, Jardins de Maizicourt and Jardins de Séricourt (gardens), the wickerwork factory at Boisle which perpetuates the age-old skill of basket weaving.
Not far from Argoules, you can explore the Forêt de Crécy, a national forest of 4,000 hectares of oak and beech trees, and the Baie of Authie, often called the baby sister of the Baie de Somme. The River Authie flows into the sea at Fort-Mahon-Plage. The same flora and fauna as the Baie de Somme are found here : sea lavender, sea buckthorn, cockles, samphire, seals… a footpath (2.5km there and back) runs from the Pointe de Routhiauville at the heart of the ‘mollières’ (meadows) to the Poulier de l’Authie, a sandy promontory which juts out into the bay and is covered with white sand dunes planted with marram grass.
The Abbey is open from March to November and the Gardens from April to November.
Explore the Somme with Gites de France Somme : Superb Parc du Marquenterre, Baie de Somme, Cathedral of Notre-Dame d’Amiens, Les Hortillonnages"