The main aim for this road trip through France is to visit the places I always wanted to but never had the chance to do it. High up on my list is Château de Marqueyssac which grabbed my attention the minute I saw the weird and wonderful topiary shapes in its gardens. The 50 or so miles distance between my hotel and this château was never going to stop me this time.
Let’s go and explore the château which is home to peacocks, the impressive tree sculptures, suspended gardens and The Dordogne best viewpoint, to name but a few.
Must-see places in Château de Marqueyssac
Even though it is a 17th century château, Marqueyssac is better known for its suspended gardens – Les Jardins de Marqueyssac. That’s what attracted me in the first place and that’s what’s likely to intrigue you too. I spent a long time marvelling at the flocks-of-sheep-like shapes to the side of the main building. BUT there is more to Marqueyssac than its gardens and here are the must-sees:
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac
There are 150,000 (yes, that’s the approximate number) boxwood trees, all perfectly sculpted in different shapes and maintained to perfection by an army of very skilled gardeners. In fact, you can hear the clicking of the hand shears before you see the gardeners at work. It is quite something and if you are lucky enough to witness it, I suggest you stop and watch them for a minute or more.
That’s just the beginning of it. The rest of the gardens are dotted on either side of the 6km walk to the top of the cliff on which Château de Marqueyssac was built. You can’t help but feel (and see) the romantic spirit of the 19th century which influenced some of the later additions to the gardens, such as the water feature which starts at the belvedere and makes its way down through rocks and under paths.
As an aside: I couldn’t help but think of Gwen Stefani and the video of What You Waiting For? (link here). Yes, that’s the one where she is transported into a fantasy world, based on Alice in Wonderland. Les Jardins des Marqueyssac are on a much, much bigger and grander scale, of course.
Château de Marqueyssac is home to quite a few wild birds and birds of prey too. You can see AND hear them in their enclosure which is very close to the entrance. The bigger attraction are the two peacocks which poke through the hedges and go for a stroll in the gardens.
I saw one of them and I waited for half an hour to see it fan out its feathers but it never happened. It was nice to be within a touching distance of a free peacock though.
Restaurant and Tea-room
I can guarantee you that you will be needing a rest after your walk through the gardens, especially if you visit Château de Marqueyssac in the summer.
Again, I was too late for lunch, so instead I had coffee and water – 2 bottles of it! The outdoor sitting area is very pleasant and with great views over the valley. The two bottles of cold water didn’t help to cool me down and I used this as an excuse to have a gelato 🙂
If you are a regular reader, you know that I encourage you to Instagram your gelato and share with your friends back home. Just for fun 🙂
Travel tips for visiting Château de Marqueyssac
I visited Château de Marqueyssac in late May (2017) and the weather was hot! Don’t forget to take some water with you as this is more of a hike than a gentle stroll through landscaped gardens. You can bring your own or purchase a bottle from the Restaurant/ Tea-room.
There is not much to see in the building of the château itself and you can do that on your way to or back from the suspended gardens.
If you like unspoiled views, then you must get to the viewing platform at the top! It offers an unspoilt view towards the valley, the river and La Roque Gageac. Once there, you will know why they call it The Belvedere of The Dordogne!
I don’t mean to put you off but you should know that although spectacular and an absolute must-do, the platform with the main viewing point is built around a rock and it does feel like you are hanging off the cliff. I have a massive fear of heights and I felt like I was walking on air! Just be aware of that.
That aside, here is the information you need help you plan your visit:
Jardins de Marqueyssac – 24220 Vézac FRANCE
Tel: +33 (0)5 53 31 36 36
The opening hours listed below may change, so please make sure you check the château’s website prior to your visit.
April, May, June, September
10:00am – 7:00pm
February, March, October to 12 November
10:00am – 6:00pm
9:00am – 8:00pm
13 November to 31 January
2:00pm – 5:00pm
* Last entry 1 hour before château closing.
** Please allow at least a couple of hours for your visit.
Adult – 9€
Child – 4.50€