Georges Rouzeau - 2012-09-27
Situated in the hanging valley of Varengeville-sur-Mer, in Haute-Normandie, the Bois des Moutiers is simultaneously an English Garden, a park with exotic species and an Arts & Crafts house. Antoine Bouchayer-Mallet shows us around the estate, created in harmony with the principles of Theosophy…
Situated on a peninsula which abounds with some of the most beautiful gardens in Northern Europe, the century old estate of the Bois des Moutiers has a lot more on offer than a simple visit to a garden. The proof of this is coming across a visitor in tears, moved by the atmosphere, which is not a rare occurrence in this incredible place. This is because the Bois des Moutiers creates a complete experience: an English Garden, the first and only example on the continent of the work of the great landscape gardener Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) who invented the mixed-border*; a house restored according to the principles of the Arts & Crafts movement by the architect Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) who went on to construct the Viceroy’s palace in New Delhi; and a park where the acidic soil and mild climate allow several exotic species to flourish such as the Himalayan rhododendrons which grow up to 8 metres high.
The founders of the estate in 1898 – the great grandparents of the current owner, Antoine Bouchayer-Mallet – were both passionate about Theosophy. This spiritual movement, which aspires to human fraternity, impregnates every stone, every tree and every floral design here.
Numerous 20th century artists from Cocteau to Gide to Virginia Woolf have wandered through the pathways of the Bois des Moutiers. Antoine Bouchayer-Mallet sums it up: “the mind can breathe here” to which we’d simply like to add “all year round.”
*Mixed-border, a plant bed where an assortment of various types of plant such as perennials and annuals are mixed together without distinction of origin or height to create a huge palette of colours, paying homage to the art of painting.
Le Bois des Moutiers
Route de l’Église – 76119 Varengeville-sur-Mer
Tel: +33 (0)2 35 85 10 02
Open from mid March to mid November: 10am-12pm, 2pm-6pm
10 € (under 7s free.)
Where to stay and dine
Ideally situated – near to all the gardens at Varengeville-sur-Mer and the coast with its chalk cliffs (5 min walk) –, this hotel-restaurant with the atmosphere of a family guesthouse is a must. All the rooms open out onto the green fields or the blue sea.
Le Piment bleu
La Cidrerie – Château de Varengeville
Route de Dieppe – Varengeville-sur-Mer
Tel: +33 (0)2 35 83 38 95 or 06 77 76 20 63
In his tea shop/workshop, the owner, a fabric designer, creates light menus based on tarts, quiches and salads (everything is fresh and homemade), not to mention the delicious desserts, such as an almond tart à l’orange anthology.
Seine-Maritime Tourist Office