Plants, art & history in one beautiful Normandy location

If you’ve followed my Instagram page closely, you might have wondered what those round, grey faces were doing in amongst some unsettlingly neat topiary. These are sculptures in Les Jardins d’Etretat, hidden in the beautiful coastal cliffs of Etretat, Normandy.

Les Jardins d’Etretat sculptures in The Emotions Garden

These dynamic sculptures are the work of Spanish artist Samuel Salcedo. Made from elastomeric resin, they depict different facial expressions – perhaps of people enjoying the oysters from the nearby oyster field!

The glamorous history of Les Jardins d’Etretat

Towards the end of the 19th Century, the garden was once owned by French actress Madame Thebault. She lived within the sprawling grounds in Villa Roxelane, and was often visited by iconic painter Claude Monet. It was here that he painted his impressions of the beachscapes and moody weather of this region of France, long before his famous waterlilies.

Faces in The Emotions Garden, Les Jardins d'Etretat, Normandy

Monet had an enthusiasm for gardening. So, inspired by this, Thebault wanted to create an avant-garde outdoor space. She hired the services of landscape architect Alexandre Grivko, who developed the sensational idea of making living sculptures using plants.

The layout of Les Jardins d’Etretat

There are seven gardens which comprise the landscape of this property, each with its own theme: The Emotions Garden (where the faces can be found), The Avatar Garden, The Impressions Garden, D’Aval Garden, The Zen Garden, La Manche Garden and D’Amont Garden.

Living Sculptures in Les Jardins d'Etretat, Normandy

So much creativity has gone into carving out a niche for each area. Think musical trees, suspended earthenware and hedge mazes. You could spend hours spotting the different creations in each one.

Mazes in Les Jardins d'Etretat, Normandy

Flowers in Les Jardins d’Etretat

It’s not all hedges. Les Jardins d’Etretat, also boasts some beautiful flowers, including Agapanthus, Camellias and Orchids. This occasional pop of colour offsets the sea of green, taking inspiration from the colours of the surrounding landscape: the white cliffs, blue and pink skies, and earthy shoreline.

Flowers in Les Jardins d'Etretat, Normandy

Visit the Les Jardins d’Etretat website here, and watch my video tour below!

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