In Aix en Provence quite close to the town centre there is a beautiful Hotel, called Le Pigonnet from the French word Pigeonniere ( Pigeon House) . We fortunately were able to stay at Le Pigonnet in June this year. I must confess, I chose this hotel because it sits in a glorious garden that forms a tranquil, shaded, green space for the guests to enjoy and view from their rooms.
The Hotel was originally an 18th century Manor and has been a family run Hotel from 1924 to 2014. The highlights of the Hotel are the imposing long tree lined driveway entrance and the welcoming ambience of the magnificent gardens. The Hotel is now owned by Esprit de France who have maintained the unique nature of the Hotel including the lush gardens and surrounds.
The Gardens were in early days (before a Hotel) a favourite place for the artist Cezanne who would wander the Gardens with his easel for different views of the Sainte Victoire Mountain in the distance.
Unlike many Gardens we happened across in France the Hotel facilities such as restaurants, bars and outdoor heated pool are actually within and of the garden rather than separate spaces. The charming stone terrace hosts breakfast and dinner accompanied often by live music and sits right in amongst the trees, hedges and greenery of this fabulous garden.
We stayed at Le Pigonnet for a few days so enjoyed many opportunities to soak up the pleasure of a secluded spot in the shade from the ancient chestnut tree, to sit and have tea in the garden and listen to the birds playing in the numerous fountains.
Let’s not forget roses, for Le Pigonnet has within the old stone walls, many beds of roses. As you stroll along the walkways away from the shade of the ancient trees, rose blooms glow in the sun and can be appreciated out of the heat of Aix en Provence.
An aspect of visiting magnificent gardens on one’s travels is that unlike in your own garden at home you can relax and not feel the terrible urge to attend to something in the garden. As Lewis Gannit American Journalist was quoted as saying
“Gardening is a kind of disease. . . . When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed.”
This area pictured above is often used for musical and dance recitals with guests viewing from hidden nooks and crannies amongst the foliage.
Le Pigonnet has many of the essential elements of French style gardens including leafy green arbours and garden rooms, statues, various types of fruit and pine trees planted in rows, pergolas, hedges, archways and as mentioned plenty of fountains.
Words and Pictures By Di Baker 2019