|A tranquil spot along the|
The gardening space has expanded and retracted over the years as the city of Amiens expanded and modern farming, transportation and refrigeration techniques changed the way farms operate. Today, although smaller than in previous decades, the gardens still produce three harvests a year. The recent trend towards organic produce has created a revival for the gardens and the formation of a new association that is working to preserve, maintain and continue the farming culture at Hortillonnages.
Today, visitors can tour the gardens both by boat and on foot. Touring by boat you see the gardens, which during our visit were in the infancy of their growing season. I can only imagine how lush they will be in a couple of months. But the towering trees provided a green canopy which made the entire area feel magical. Ducks and other water fowl swam alongside our boat and peeked out at us from the rushes and canal banks. You never knew what you would find around the next corner; sometimes it was more woods but other times it was garden plots carefully being tended by their caregivers or the small cottages. By foot, the experience is different. Winding paths parallel the canals but you can see the gardens at your own pace taking the time to sit and absorb the nature around you. The only hint that you are in a city is the spire of the Amiens cathedral on the horizon. If I had to use a single word to describe the experience, I would call it enchanting.
|The canals meandered peacefully through the gardens. It|
was easy to forget that we were in the middle of Amiens.
I know that weekend retreats weren't the original intent of these buildings but I love what they have become. Each has their own individual personality, from manicured to overgrown, whimsical to utilitarian, I could dream about the possibilities of each of them. It made me realize that don't need a big beach house or mountain retreat; give me a one room house in a peaceful setting and I could be perfectly content. For the moment I am making myself content with my own little quiet corner in our house but with our next move I'm already planning what my she-shed will be like and these cottages in the Hortillonnages gardens are sure to be my inspiration.
|From the bright and whimsical|
|to the manicured and "fancy"|
If you go:
Floating Gardens of Hortilonnages
54 Boulevard Beauville
8000 Amiens, France
Open 09.00-12.00 & 13.30-18.00 from 1 April - 31 October
Adults 9.50 Euro, children 4 and up 4.10 Euro, under 4 FREE