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From garden to garden around Pontoise

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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Hello dear Sparkfriends,

This weekend is one of my favorite events in France: ‘Rendez-vous aux jardins’, which could be translated: ‘Let’s meet at the gardens’. It is a kind of National Gardens Day. Many gardens open to the public that day, including private ones. It is awesome! I have been to many gardens that way over the years, and I always enjoy talking with their owners. Gardeners are nice people! :)

Today, I decided to go back to Pontoise, a town I love and which opens over 20 gardens for the ‘Rendez-vous aux jardins’. The blooming tree you see above was in the garden of the Tavet Museum.

If you do it properly (!), you leave your car somewhere and you walk everywhere. It means LOTS of walking as Pontoise isn’t a tiny little town and it means great exercise as it is built on a steep hill. A great afternoon if you ask me! :) That way, you get to see the streets better and unusual sights like this abandoned chapel...

... or this very narrow tower, all that is left from an 18th century castle...

Some of the private gardens that are open to the public for the ‘Rendez-vous aux jardins’ used to be places where the impressionist painters (especially Pissarro, who lived in Pontoise for part of his life) liked to paint. It was the case for this garden (the Hermitage Vegetable Garden), which now belongs to an association...

Another garden which was also an inspiration for impressionists a long time ago, when it was an orchard, didn’t have much interest but exhibited some nice black and white pictures...

To be honest, I wasn’t always convinced by the art shown in the gardens...

... but it was fun anyway! I enjoyed the less professional gardens, and the less professional art shows, the most... That one especially...

There was also a guitarist playing some classical music... I didn’t dare to take a picture of him as I couldn’t interrupt him to ask. But it really did add a special touch to the visit of the garden.

In the town center, the market was packing, so I didn’t stop (for once!) to take pictures of the fresh products. Instead, after the Tavet Museum garden, I headed to the rose garden near the town hall.

Unfortunately, the roses had been too cold these last few weeks and only very few were out.

I crossed the town’s garden and loved its bandstand.

Further down the hill, I reached the garden of L’hôtel Le Vasseur de Verville, which is a beautiful 18th century house and was open to the public for the first time (in this context, ‘l’hôtel’ doesn’t mean ‘hotel’ as it usually does, it means a grand townhouse).

The interest of the next garden, rue Saint-Jean, wasn’t the garden itself...

The owner is a passionate beekeeper!

He explained to me that there is about 40,000 bees per hive. And there can be many more! (Considering that he had four hives, that was a bit too many bees for me, but they weren’t aggressive so that was a relief!)

I bought some of his honey (I had brought back some honey from Egypt last month but decided to keep it for a friend I’ll be visiting in Scotland next week, I thought that would be something quite exotic to bring as there is a Coptic monk printed on the sticker!)...
I just had some in my yogurt and it is really lovely, with a strong taste -- he said it was 90% acacia.

The last garden was a long walk away, but well worth the effort! It took me under the Clos des Anglaises’ arch. It is called that way because English nuns used to have a monastery there. In 1658, they ran away from the persecutions in England and found refuge in Pontoise. The arch is all that is left from the monastery, and the garden I visited used to be part of their huge domain.

The house, built in 1897, was a lovely sand color. The garden was very long, down the hill (but not too steep)...

They had built an insects haven. I found it so interesting! Apparently it attracts all kinds of bugs and bees which feel safe in it.

But what I liked the most was certainly the view over the other side of Pontoise and the Saint-Maclou church. I hope you can have an idea of how beautiful it was, the picture is very small!

And then it was time to leave the inviting chairs behind and go home to put my tired feet up!

My sparkpage starts with : ‘Sparkpeople is bringing so much to my life.’ I was thinking about that today... Countless times over the months since I started blogging, knowing that you were expecting my blog about my hike or walk encouraged me to go out and do what I had intended... when otherwise I might have stayed at home and work or be lazy! Today was one of these days (there is so much work at the moment!). So, thank you very much for all your support and comments, you can’t imagine all that they bring to me!

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