This is the story of a painter living in Versailles, who wished to find a suitable setting for his painting, and found an idyllic country house in one of France’s most beautiful villages, Gerberoy. In 1901, Henri Le Sidaner acquired this beautiful white building with its bright turquoise-blue shutters on the advice of Auguste Rodin. The house is still a family home and cannot be visited, but Henri Le Sidaner’s gardens in Gerberoy are open to the public most of the year.
A garden to visit in early summer
Henri Le Sidaner’s garden is a 3500 m2 garden that was laid out on plots of land on the site of the ruins of an ancient fortified castle. I visited Gerberoy at a lovely time of year – the end of June – and all the rose bushes had bloomed. It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit the whole village and its gardens.
Sidaner’s is particularly renowned for its rose gardens, which bloom magnificently and whose fragrance perfumes you throughout your walk. The scent of the roses was so intoxicating that day, it almost gave me a headache. Henri Le Sidaner’s garden is very special in that it is divided into different sections, a succession of small gardens, each with its own particularity. You need to be a good walker, or even a good climber, to reach some of the higher levels, as the garden is partly structured by a series of Italian-style terraces overhung by yew trees. Three levels of terraces have been created to create an Italian garden, the painter’s ambition being to paint the effects of light.
A succession of small gardens with character
The white garden, through which the main house below can be seen, features white roses, century-old boxwood, hydrangeas, sculptures and a beautiful wrought-iron garden set.
Take the path that runs alongside the painter’s beautiful home and you’ll come to a terrace nestled in the village heights. The view stretches far beyond the village, with a succession of overlapping ancient roofs, little hidden gardens like treasures that deserve to be treasured, nooks and crannies that you’d never have suspected, and in which you’d be delighted to bask…
A bucolic and inspiring walk
The rose garden, also on the upper part of the park, offers a bucolic break with a lovely view of the collegiate church of Saint-Pierre, and is also home to the painter’s summer studio in a delightful little stone outbuilding. To get to the temple of love, you’ll pass through a bed of stunning violet roses, aptly named Pacific Dream. They’re well worth a look. Below, you can enjoy the freshness of the pond and relax for a few moments under the arbour.
Henri Le Sidaner’s gardens are exuberant, romantic, colorful, secret and, above all, inspiring. Like Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, these gardens were a source of inspiration for the Gerberoy painter, and it’s not surprising that the park has been classified as a Jardin Remarquable.
Gerberoy also has another garden to visit, the Jardin des Ifs, and I’m looking forward to discovering it very soon, especially after my recent visit to the Jardins de la Ballue in Brittany, another garden dedicated to topiary art.