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EUROPEAN GARDEN HERITAGE NETWORK – EGHN

Jardin des plantes

The Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden), located close to the historical centre of Nantes and the recently upgraded promenade along the embankments of the Loire, is a centrepiece in Nantes’ strategy as a “city within a garden”.

The park was created by Louis XIV during the 17th century. In the 18th century, Louis XV made it the location for imported plants and demanded that all ship captains bring back to Nantes seeds and plants from their trips overseas. However, the garden that we know today was designed from 1823 by Antoine Noisette and then restyled and landscaped by Jean-Marie Ecorchard from 1836. The garden was opened to the public in 1865, remaining a place for botanical research.

The City of Nantes is defined by its 100 parks, gardens and green spaces. Collectively, such a large number of green spaces means that every resident lives less than 300 metres away from a park or garden. This forms an essential part of the enviable quality of life “à la nantaise”, which is well-recognised and often cited as best practice for green cities.  And these green spaces are, naturally, valuable environmental assets, the environment being a clear policy priority for innovation across the Greater Nantes area (Nantes Métropole), which was awarded the title of European Green Capital in 2013. The Jardin des Plantes has developed into a true hybrid park which is visited by 2 million visitors every year.

The Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden), located close to the historic centre of Nantes and the recently upgraded promenade along the embankments of the Loire, is a centrepiece in Nantes’ strategy as a “city within a garden”.

Three centuries of botanical adventures, aided as much by sailors as by green-fingered and wise gardeners, have made the gardens what they are today. It is highly possible that the flowers themselves exude the fragrances of travel… The Jardin des Plantes hosts over 10,000 species which places it among the top five national collections. Some of these have been cultivated on-site in one the ornate and elegant 19th century greenhouses.

With seven hectares of green spaces, 800 sq m of greenhouses and more than 50,000 flowers planted each season, the Jardin des Plantes is holder of the Remarkable Garden label and among the four leading botanical gardens in France.

It is a reference point for the cultivation of epiphytic plants in a semi-natural setting, for its permanent concern for the re-introduction of rare species and especially for its camellia collection. Camellias frame almost the entire garden along its outer walk. It was recognized as an International Camellia Garden of Excellence in 2016 by the International Camellia Society.

The park was created by Louis XIV during the 17th century. In the 18th century, Louis XV made it the location for imported plants and demanded that all ship captains bring back to Nantes seeds and plants from their trips overseas. However, the garden that we know today was designed from 1823 by Antoine Noisette and then restyled and landscaped by Jean-Marie Ecorchard from 1836. The garden was opened to the public in 1865, remaining a place for botanical research.

A smaller, historical glasshouse discovered by staff members on an auction website was bought and placed on the small palm island. It aims to provide a space where the public can read, eat, work or simply relax in a subtropical atmosphere every afternoon.

Most successful with both children and adults is a cooperative initiative with famous artists such as the well-known French author and painter Claude Ponti.

In the past years, small-scale installations have highlighted selected plants and elements in the park, telling stories about them and Nantes’ history as well as adding some fiction too.

Children also love figures they know from Ponti’s books, such as the plant-based Sleeping Chick and its bed. Much is done with small garden pots and an impressive number of benches, such as the Great Bench (crossing a main path), the Processionary Benches (growing in size), the Togobans (or sledges) as another wild growing species. There is also a series of benches that bend to enable best views, either in the garden or of the people passing by. The story behind each installation can be found in the park.

At the top end of the garden, the Orangery Café has become established as a charming restaurant with an outdoor patio overlooking the park. And the newest addition to the park are the public toilets, said to be among the most sophisticated in France.

The park reaches out into the city as well: camellias are planted on private and public ground between the park and the new extension of the art museum, and the park supplies some of the gourmet stations to be found in the city, offering not only picnic spots but also fruits and some vegetables for free use.

Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden)

Jardin des Plantes
Rue Stanislas Baudry
44000 Nantes

www.nantes.fr/jardin-des-plantes

Owner: City of Nantes

 

Entrance fee: Free entry, including the glass houses

Opening times:

Botanical Garden:
15th January until 19th March and 23rd October until 17th November: 08:30 – 18:30
20th March until 22nd October: 08:30 – 20:00
18th November unit 14th January: 08:30 – 17:30

Glass houses:
Monday – Friday: 12:30 – 18:00
Saturday – Sunday: 09:30 – 18:00

Guided tours: Open, public tours, free for individuals. Guided tours for groups of 10 or more persons, 3 Euro p.p.

Cultural events and other activities: There are plenty of culutral events and festivals for the whole family during the year.

Tourism information:
Shop: yes
Restaurant/Café: yes
Toilets: yes
Parking: Paid parking outside the garden (Rue Gambetta)
Map of the gardens: Download PDF here
Accessibility: All main paths are fully accessible
Playgrounds: yes
Dogs: Dogs allowed on lead
Bikes: No cycling in the park