A vineyard garden

At the top of a hill, a 19th century chateau overlooks the vineyards, cellars and outbuildings. Abandoned for many a long year, the garden has kept a few traces of its history.

Comprehensively reworked by Dominique Lafourcade, it is reconnecting with its genius loci.

The non-organic mindset of the majestic chateau courtyard is immediately obvious. The only touch of greenery is the exuberance of oleanders overflowing from Anduze pots. A centrally located pond determines the axis opening onto the Esplanade; across the full length of the lawn, the eye travels towards the statues representing the Four Seasons and then disappears into the woods.

Romantic beyond compare, the original grotto has been restored, and in a similar vein, the pond with its "false branch" railings made of cement has been rebuilt. Lush banana trees, palms and agaves border the exotic garden bridge, which leads to the old greenhouse.

Only vestiges of the former chapel remained; its square is now home to an outdoor seating area surrounded by potted aspidistras, a place for enjoying the calm and silence.

The look of yesteryear has been restored to the large pond, which, teeming with life, is home to goldfish and water lilies, as is Turtle Island in its middle. 

Climbing roses bloom on the columns that border the pond, filling the air with fragrance.

"The garden is not only for strolling and thinking in, but also for entertainment... The vineyard garden absolutely had to have an open-air theatre"...

The former cloister's facade serves as its backdrop and three rows of clipped box hedge outline the semicircles of banked seating.

Classical forms are key inside the cloister: an alley of cross-shaped bricks interrupted by a round pool topped with a fountain, trimmed hedges, ground-cover roses and, in the corners, potted laurel trees.

Below, a meadow which extends north of the chateau and which will be home to the Italian-style garden, the terrace and swimming pool, the orchard and the Indian garden.

There is a stunning view of the estate, the woods and the vineyards stretching into the distance from the chateau's belvedere. In the vineyard garden, past and present are allied in a eulogy to the vine.

Dominique Lafourcade has recently designed a contemporary garden around the new cellar, with an enormous Marc Nucera sculpture positioned in the centre of a large ornamental pond.