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When you see the towers of the Chateau of La Napoule rise above the sea, it is hard to believe that the castle is not an original. It was dreamed up by Americans Mary and Henry Clews, she an architect and landscape designer, he a sculptor. They devoted 17 years to transforming the former ruins of a fortress into a neo-medieval castle. Alongside it Mary created an artist's garden with stunning panoramas, intriguing perspectives and cosy secret corners punctuated with quirky and wonderful sculptures.
Château de la Napoule
The name for Phoenix Park is inspired by the "Phoenix canariensis", the date palm of the Canary Islands. Here it really sets the tone, with a predominantly Mediterranean flavour. This green lung of seven hectares is also a home to a treasury of the tropics. A huge, 25m high greenhouse recreates tropical and subtropical climates! Perfect for a family visit, this is also an animal park with more than 2,000 animals of 70 species including lemurs, wallabies and kookaburras.
Parc Phoenix (French only)
In the exotic garden of Eze, at the foot of the ruins of the medieval castle, you will discover elements of the tropics and the desert. In the southern zone, succulents and agave plants such as aloe vera take centre stage whilst on the northern side, there are Mediterranean species that love the humidity in a beautiful shaded garden with waterfalls and pools that look like mirrors reflecting the blue sky. Everywhere you look you’ll see a sublime panorama - at 429m above sea level, the view stretches from Italy to Saint-Tropez.
Exotic Garden of Eze
The last owner, an English aristocrat, adored the plant variety daturas, also known as devil’s trumpets. In Menton, their heady scent hangs over the garden of Val Rahmeh, an extension of the Museum of Natural History. Of the 1700 species from around the world that flourish here, more than a hundred are rare or a protected species. The centrepiece of this extraordinary garden is the Sophora toromiro, a native shrub of Easter Island which no longer grows there.
Garden of Val Rahmeh
Writer George Sand said that the garden at Thuret was "the most beautiful" she had ever seen. Under the guardianship of the National Institute of Agricultural Research, it is very much a collector's garden with 1,600 different species of trees and shrubs and a gorgeous water garden. Visitors can follow a course which identifies exceptional specimens such as a glorious 150-year-old Eucalyptus dorrigoensis tree.
Jardin Thuret (French only)
A garden hidden within a garden… At Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat the gardens are the living legacy of Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild. Here you’ll find a French garden alongside a Japanese garden reached via a rose garden. Aesthetic to the point of pickiness, the Baroness instructed employees to dress up as trees, flowerbeds or ponds, so that she could more easily visualise and design the landscape. The most unusual aspect here is the stone garden with its collection of bas reliefs from the middle ages, gargoyles and statues that seem to come straight out of a fairy tale.
Villa Ephrussi de Rotschild