A historic reverie in Montpellier
Your trip to Montpellier can begin in the city's extraordinary botanic gardens. Take sanctuary in this peaceful oasis marked by history. Founded in 1593 by King Henri IV and created by doctor Pierre Richer de Belleval, the oldest botanic garden in France is the stuff of daydreams. Originally designed for the use of students at the faculty of medicine who had to study medicinal plants, today it delights passers-by and lovers of trees, flowers and other plants.
The Greek strawberry tree, the Lebanese cedar, the Chilean wine palm, the Greek fir and the Californian horse chestnut.... you will be blown away by these ancient trees along pathways flanked by species from all over the world.
You will fall in love with the romantic atmosphere of the 19th century garden, dominated by a monument dedicated to Rabelais – who studied at the Montpellier faculty of medicine in 1530 – and statues illustrating the great scientific figures from Montpellier such as Pierre Magnol and Nostradamus.
Meditate at the foot of the famous 200-year-old gingko biloba then admire the Martins greenhouse, recently renovated, and its succulent plants. Daydream on a bench, in front of the lotus pond, which has become the symbol of this wonderful place, which is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, from 12 pm to 6 pm and 8 pm from June to September (admission free).
To complete your visit, ten minutes or so away on foot is the Écusson district, the historic and entirely pedestrianised centre of Montpellier. Here you will find some of the most beautiful areas of the city, such as the place de la Comédie and the place de la Canourgue, as well as many terraces where you can enjoy the city's welcoming and festive atmosphere, driven by the energy of its students.
Montpellier Botanic Gardens
Boulevard Henri IV
+33(0)4 34 43 36 20
Historic neighbourhood of Écusson
Rare discoveries in Brest
Are you ready for a world tour of endangered plant species? In the heart of the Stang-Alar valley, on the outskirts of Brest, the mild Breton climate encourages the rarest plants to flourish. In the garden of the National Botanic Conservatory, a pioneer in the field, you are surrounded by abundant vegetation which makes up a precious living collection. Time seems to stand still in this place bathed in tranquillity. A stream crosses the valley, numerous lakes extend along the route created over almost 30 ha (the northern half of which has been developed as a public park). High cliffs make the site beautifully intimate. You start your walk, of two to three hours, depending on your pace and the time spent in observation.
A useful guidebook (free) helps you to understand the flowering of a very rare hibiscus, the fascinating world of carnivorous plants, the biological cycle of the titan arum from Sumatra and many other surprises. In this conservatory garden, the plants are grouped by geographic origin for the benefit of the walkers. Here each continent exhibits its most delicate species: Portuguese heath, Landerneau rock rose, Moroccan mound, Chinese hibiscus and the Chilean wine palm. You arrive at the doors of the tropical greenhouses, the showpieces of the garden, which contain the largest collection of endangered plant species. You progress through this luxuriant universe, from desert to humid mountain areas, in which several exotic ecosystems have been reconstructed.
Before leaving the city, take the time for a visit which combines the indoors with the outdoors at the National Marine Museum. Located in the medieval chateau of Brest, you will discover the history and traditions of naval construction as well as an amazing view of the harbour.
Garden of the National Botanic Conservatory
Rampe du Stang-Alar
+33(0)2 98 41 88 95
National Maritime Museum
Château de Brest
Boulevard de la Marine
+33(0)2 98 22 12 39
Eclectic nature in Berlin
During your exploration of the German capital, escape to the magical world of its botanic garden. Located to the south-west of the city, this immense park of 43 ha, open every day from 9 am to 7 pm, will transport you to a fabulous archipelago of tamed nature for the modest sum of six euros.
Study the plan handed out at the entrance carefully before tackling one of the three largest botanic gardens in the world. You are off on a sensational visit! Lose yourself in the pathways which lead to the English garden, and then to the flaming red Japanese cedars. Admire the care devoted by the gardeners to the plant arrangements. You have never seen so many different plants in one place!
Your stroll, in complete freedom, is accompanied by the lapping of the water which fills a reed-surrounded lake. At the east of the park, you approach the large Victorian greenhouse built in 1907. This labyrinth of glass domes, the largest covered greenhouse in the world, reveals a succession of extraordinary landscapes. Cacti from South Africa, date plum trees from China and Japanese azaleas... you wander amidst the luxuriant plants from tropical and arid zones which burst out on all sides. The star of the show is a South American forest with emerald green foliage which transports you into another world.
If you have any energy left, fifteen minutes or so away on foot is the “Dahlem museum complex”, consisting of three national institutions devoted respectively to ethnology, Asian art and European culture. So, in Berlin, you can combine nature and culture in the same day.
Berlin Botanic Gardens (Botanischer Garten)
+49 30 83850100
Besuchereingang Lansstraße 8