A gardens trail in Hyères on the French Riviera

The garden-town of Hyères has been dubbed “the city of palm trees” due to the large and varied presence of this species along its streets. Hyères-les-Palmiers is a seaside resort in the department of the Var, between Toulon and Bormes-les-Mimosas. Hyères-les-Palmiers owes its name to the 7000 palm trees planted in the town. Starting in 1850, enthusiastic horticulturists carried out their first experiments in acclimatizing tropical plants. Beyond the palm trees, one will be charmed by the numerous orange groves casting their enthralling scents throughout the streets. In the spring, mimosa trees take over, invading gardens and spilling onto the streets.

Looking over the old city, sprawls the garden of the Castel Sainte-Claire. It was re-designed by the American novelist Edith Wharton when she lived there between 1927 and 1937. Located on the hills of the medieval town, this garden communicates via a picturesque trail with the modernist Villa Noailles and the St Bernard garden. The castle St Claire belonged at a time to the American writer Edith Wharton who created an impressive ensemble of terrace gardens in which she planted rare subtropical species. Most of them are from South America, Africa and Australia and bloom all through the year like the cycads, birds of paradise, musa trees, coral trees, aloes, yuccas, lantana and a rich collection of salvia. Higher up still, the town hosts another remarkable garden as the terraced park Saint Bernard stretches downhill starting at the feet of the Villa Noailles. The villa was built in the 1920’s for Charles et Marie-Laure de Noailles, patrons of the arts, this example of the modern architectural heritage is now an art centre of national interest and presents exhibitions, festivals and workshop all year in the fashion, design, architecture and photography fields. Surrounding the Villa Noailles, the garden St Bernard was built between 1924 and 1930 by the villa’s architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. A triangular ‘cubist garden’ was also conceived by architect and landscape designer Gabriel Guevrekian. Under the villa, Charles de Noailles, an amateur botanist, starts working in 1925 on a narrow terrace Mediterranean garden where he cultivates local plants such as lavender and rosemary as well as rarer species like angel’s trumpet (datura), silverberry, bignonia, wisteria, pittosporum, heliotrope, helichrysum italicum. In 1973, the town purchases the garden, which offers a wonderful view on the entire coast.




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