The Gardens of Marqueyssac is one of the world’s most magnificent gardens. Located at Vezac in the Dordogne Department of France, the famed Gardens of Marqueyssac covers an area of 22 hectares. The garden is laid out on an amazing landscape on a cliff overlooking the Dordogne River. The Gardens of Marqueyssac also offers splendid views of the Dordogne valley between Beynac and La Roque-Gageac.
The primary planting is boxwood hedging, with cypress and wild cyclamen. The box is more sculpted than clipped, with the organic shapes harmonizing with the landscape. The clipping is done, by hand, with only four gardeners and the planting dates from the nineteenth century. There are over 150,000 hand carved century-old box-trees. The garden is adorned with belvederes, rocks, water, grass glades, dry-stone huts, roundabout, a Gothic chapel, and playgrounds for children. The bubbly, rounded forms of the garden are carefully manicured by active attendants, maintaining a design that was first developed over 300 years ago.
The Gardens of Marqueyssac have an interesting story behind. The chateau and the garden surrounding it was built at the end of the 17th century by Bertrand Vernet de Marqueyssac, Counselor to Louis XIV. The original garden featured terraces, alleys, and a kitchen garden surrounding the chateau. A chapel and a grand alley for horseback rides were constructed in the garden in the 1830s by Julien Bessieres. Later the garden was owned by Julien de Cervel and he planted thousands of boxwood trees and had them carved in fantastic shapes in the 1860s. Julien de Cervel also added linden trees, cypress trees, stone pine and the cyclamen and built rustic structures, redesigned the parterres, and laid out five kilometers of walks following the romantic style.
However, the Gardens of Marqueyssac was not well maintained in the second half of the 20th century and most parts of the gardens were lost. In 1996, a new owner, Kleber Rossillon, restored the gardens to their old character and also added some new features. In the same year the gardens were opened to the public.
The Gardens of Marqueyssac stretches across a large plot that includes 5 kilometers of walking trails, a Belvedere pavilion high above the river below, a chapel and these famed overhanging gardens. The gardens have been classified amongst the Notable Gardens of France by the French government. It is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.