Florence/Nice Tour with Recreating Eden
September 16th – 26th, 2007


September 23 Sunday, Day 8
We boarded our coach and headed off this morning with our guide to Eze. Perched in an "eagle's nest" at the height of an imposing and superb cliff, the village and its light ochre church can be seen from afar. Once there, we discovered a small Provencal village filled with charm and colourful window boxes, offering a panoramic view of the sea and coast-line. Small narrow roads, archways and superbly restored stone houses, shady squares, refreshing ancient fountains... we were soon seduced by the marvels of Eze. The village is so beautiful; it's hard to keep your mind on the fact that you are here to see the gardens... The numerous small arts and crafts boutiques are hard to resist... some of them are like tiny caves dug out of the rocky hillside. The streets of this medieval village have witnessed its historic past. The two look-out towers at the entrance, the door-way and the gun-boat are all classified as historic monuments.

… Eze’s ‘petit jardin exotique’. Suspended some 429 metres between sea and sky, the exotic garden offers the visitor the most breath-taking views of Eze and the surrounding area. The garden itself contains over 400 species of plants and cacti, surrounding the ruins of the castle along a maze of little paths.

Eze also has some incredible sculptures of women set in the garden…by Jean –Philippe Richard

Then a short journey to Monaco and the Jardin Exotique de Monaco, then the Japanese Garden and finally the Grace Kelly Exibition.

Looked upon as a temple of luxury and prestige, Monaco is a world set slightly apart from the rest of the Côte d'Azur. Because of its economic boom, many sky-scrapers have appeared in the last decades, the only ones you'll see on the Riviera. The Principality of Monaco is comprised of three main parts: Monaco (the Rock and Prince's Palace), La Condamine (a bustling shopping area at the foot of the Rock) and Monte-Carlo, the central area around the Casino with the classiest hotels. A town that thrives on prestige, Monaco is a showcase of deluxe boutiques with renowned designer names, and the most impressive collection of really enviable cars and yachts you will ever see.

September 24 Monday, Day 9
Today we saw two very different gardens, both incredibly beautiful. One is a plantsmans garden, one so private that it is only open by special invitation and contains an abundance of plant material collected by people who loved plants and maintain them so well in this garden. The other is a public garden, but was the home of a Rothschild…so you know there was a great deal of money put into this garden…. Les Cèdres, one of the highlights of the tour in Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat. Villa Les Cèdres, housing one of the largest collections of tropical plants in Europe is a private botanical garden and is famous for its rare collections of tropical and subtropical plants. Our private tour of the gardens and greenhouses were incredible. On 2.5 acres there are over 14,000 species of plants. Peto designed the waterway in this exceptional garden. Trees are draped with ephphytes, there is a palm grove, a collection of bamboos and a corner of equatorial forest. It’s all there, plus more – like the greenhouses full to the brim. This is indeed a plantsmans paradise.

We then headed to the beautiful Villa Ephrussi where we enjoyed lunch in the Tea Room which overlooks both the garden and the water before visiting the gardens. One of the most enchanting of the ‘dream residences in the south of France’, this is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Similar to the art collection that brings together works from throughout the ages and the world, the gardens surrounding the villa evoke both European and exotic landscapes recapturing the characteristics of Italian and Spanish gardens that were so dear to the Baroness. In front of the villa, the French garden spreads out gloriously, but is in sharp contrast with both the neo-Renaissance architecture of the pink stucco residence and the splendor of the Mediterranean greenery. It was on this peninsula that the Baroness was able to bring together and sing the praises of ‘the loveliness of Creation, that of the gods and that of Man’. The Villa is set among seven magnificent themed gardens. Here, strolling visitors will be surprised and enchanted by the exact symmetry of the formal French garden, the lush vegetation of the Spanish and Florentine gardens, the fragrant profusion of the rose garden, the rare trees in the exotic garden, or the archaeological remains in the Stone garden. Cap Ferrat was the summer resort of Europe and North America's most elegant and wealthy denizens, and it was in 1905 that Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild chose this spot to build her personal "folly" inspired by the great Renaissance palaces of Venice and Florence. An historic monument filled with priceless works of art built on the narrowest part of the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat promontory, this sumptuous palazzo, one of the finest listed buildings on the French Riviera, has views over the Bay of Villefranche on one side and the Bay of Beaulieu on the other.

September 25 Tuesday, Day 10
After breakfast we again met our coach and guide for our journey to the Menton region. We visited two beautiful gardens today. The first created by Lawrence Johnston (who also created Hidcote in England) and the second, a third generation garden first designed by Humphry Waterfield, a close friend of Lawrence Johnston. Serre de la Madone Garden Serre de la Madone is one the south of France's best gardens and contains an exceptional botanical collection from throughout the world, some of which are now the only remaining specimens. Beyond its botanic interests, Serre de la Madone is a remarkable example of landscape architecture with its ponds and fountains that create a calm and preserved atmosphere. A procedure of official classification, rare for gardens, has allowed it to be classified as an historic monument since 1990.

Clos du Peyronnet, the private garden of William Waterfield

Three generations of the same family have lived and gardened here, up the side of a steep hill above the old town of Menton-Garavan along the French Riviera close to the Italian border. The garden was first laid out by Humphry Waterfield, uncler of the present owner. Humphry was an artist, garden designer and close friend of Lawrence Johnston who was making his own garden at the same time at Serre de la Madone. It is rich in colours and movement, thanks to water reflections and distant Mediterranean views. A plantsmans garden. Thank you to William for the fun and entertaining tour through the garden. Back to our hotel, time to pack and then we met for our farewell dinner.

September 26 Wednesday, Day 11
This was our day of departure from the tour…


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row