The Château de Marqueyssac is a 17th-century château and gardens at Vézac, in the Dordogne. The château was built at the end of the 17th century by Bertrand Vernet de Marqueyssac, Counselor to Louis XIV, on cliffs overlooking the Dordogne valley. The original garden featured terraces, alleys, and a kitchen garden surrounding the chateau. Between 1830 and 1840, Julien Bessières constructed a chapel and a grand alley one hundred meters long for horseback rides.
In the 1860s, the new owner, Julien de Cervel, began to plant thousands of boxwood trees – today there are over 150,000 – and had them carved in fantastic shapes, many in groups of rounded shapes. He also added linden trees, cypress trees, and stone pine from Italy, and introduced the cyclamen from Naples. Following the Romantic style, he built rustic structures, redesigned the parterres, and laid out five kilometres of walks.
In the second half 20th century, the house was rarely occupied and the gardens were not well maintained. Beginning in 1996, a new owner, Kleber Rossillon, restored the gardens to their old character and added new features including an alley of santolina and rosemary and, in the romantic spirit of the 19th century, a narrow levada of water descending from the belvedere and ending in a cascade, the authenticity of which is surprisingly persuasive. The gardens were opened to the public in 1996, and now host almost 200,000 visitors each year.
Since 1997, the gardens have been classified among the Notable Gardens of France by the Committee of Parks and Gardens of the French Ministry of Culture. Enhanced by the cypresses, brightened by cyclamen, and with its incredible array of pruned box the site has a romantic Toscan air whose popularity is evident by the fact that it is the most visited garden in the Aquitaine. The belvedere view of the river and the nearby village of La Roque-Gageac, one of the most beautiful villages in France, is well worth the effort of climbing up there...you can always rest before you need to come back down.
Les Jardins suspendus de Marqueyssac, 24220 Vézac.
Tel: 05 53 31 36 36