Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Exotic Garden of - not Monaco?

After I found out that Mr. Red House had been awarded a trip to Monaco, one of the first things I did was google 'gardens in Monaco'!  The largest and most renowned garden in Monaco is the Jardin Exotique de Monaco (Exotic Garden of Monaco), a botanical garden located on a cliffside that contains a collection of over 1,000 species of succulents.

This is not a picture taken at the Exotic Garden of Monaco
The Exotic Garden of Monaco was opened in 1933, and, in addition to the botanical garden, boasts a large natural underground cavern with stalagmites and stalactites.   It also holds a museum of Prehistoric Anthropology that displays prehistoric human artifacts found at the site.

Also not a picture of the Exotic Garden of Monaco
My husband's company sponsored several tours of Monaco and the surrounding area, and we eagerly (okay, I eagerly) signed up for the garden-related tour that included the French town of Eze, a perfume factory, and the Exotic Garden.

Nope, still not in the Exotic Garden of Monaco
Eze is a small medieval town on the coast of France that was built on a cliff due to the turbulent times.  It was destroyed and rebuilt several times, and now is a tourist spot filled with small shops and art galleries.  At the very top of the cliff sit the remains of a castle that was destroyed in the 1700's.

Eze is also known for its amazing panoramic views of the coast that you can see from the top of the cliff...

Below you can see the roads carved into the cliff.  The town of Eze was not accessible to cars - we had to park below and walk up into the village.

After seeing the beautiful French town of Eze, I expected to get on a bus to go back to Monaco for the eagerly anticipated Exotic Garden.  I was very confused when the tour guide led us to a path near the castle ruins.

Apparently, we were already at the Exotic Garden... of Eze, France.

There's more than one Exotic Garden in the area?!
This Exotic Garden was built in 1949 by the mayor of Eze who wanted to build a park to attract more visitors to the town.  At least there is one connection to the garden in Monaco - the mayor employed Jean Gastaud, the creator of the Jardin Exotique de Monaco, to design the garden.

I was disappointed that we did not get to go the famous Exotic Garden of Monaco, but I did enjoy this other exotic garden with its beautiful cliffside views and unusual but striking cacti and other succulents. 

Exotic indeed, and definitely very different from the plants I'm used to seeing in my North Carolina garden!

I wish I knew more about succulents to fully appreciate all the different types.  It was very interesting to see such an unusual garden, but one well suited to the cliff face on which it was located.

Look at the base of this Nolina recurvata - it is swollen with stored water.
Farewell, Monaco and French riviera.  We had a blast!  Who knows, maybe someday we'll be lucky enough to visit the area again and see the Exotic Garden we had intended upon seeing - the one in Monaco!


  1. Ooh those cacti look dangerously prickly!...OUCH!

  2. That is rather comical. Sounds like something that would happen to me. I am glad that you could appreciate the garden despite being a little disappointed. That tree that stores water is very cool. Amazing how plants are so adaptable (much more than we are sometimes)!

  3. Such an interesting garden full of interesting plants. I, too, like that tree that stores water.

  4. The overhead view of the succulents amongst the houses is amazing. Surely the other garden can't be more impressive than that ...


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