Etretat Gardens appear to have no beginning or end. They comprise different components united by one idea. The graphics and perfect architecture can be seen from any viewpoint. These are futuristic gardens, working with dimensions of live sculptures and streamlined forms, as if borrowed from the nature of the Normandy coast itself.
The first part, the Garden of Avatar, welcomes visitors and takes them to a magical land where you can imagine yourself a character from Avatar or Alice in Wonderland.
Intertwined here are the roots of century-old trees and plants nurtured by gardeners (holly ilex aquifolium, osmanthus burkwoodii and osmanthus heterophillus). Life was created by nature; the philosophical and extraordinary gardens of Etretat have been shaped by man.
The Power Garden symbolises the movement of the ocean. The images of rising and ebbing tide, waves and whirlpools have been skillfully sculpted from Phillyrea angustifolia shrubs to rise in waves or descend in spirals, framed by blue Agapanthus africanus. Here, you can enjoy the most spectacular view of the Aval Cliff and the famous needle protruding from the ocean.
Garden of Emotions and Bottom of the Ocean. Here, you can see how Enkianthus japonicas (imported from Japan) and Buxus sempervirens have been cut to represent shells of mollusks, recreated in honor of Etretat’s oyster farm, well-known since the 18th Century. The impression is complemented by unique rubber sculptures made by Spanish artist Samuel Salcedo, depicting faces of people experiencing an intense range of emotions.
Tree Huggers’ Garden. In this sculpture composition by Wiktor Szostalo, people line up to hug the last tree on Earth. The project was conceived in 2005 and has since travelled around the world. Through a variety of images, the artist calls for the protection of nature. The sculptures were made with materials found in parks, including dried stems.
Wiktor has created various characters for different countries; for France, he fashioned a sculpture of Claude Monet painting the sunset at Etretat – “Soleil Couchant à Etretat”. The artist appears to be looking on from a huge ship and painting the ocean with large strokes. Monet’s masterpiece, like Etretat Gardens, should be viewed from different distances and angles.
The founder of the garden, Madame Thébault, in 1907 assembled rare species of orchids that symbolized concubines in sultan Suleiman's harem, where every "flower-concubine" expressed its special beauty and temper.
While taking care of it, she got into Roxelana character, who had eclipsed her husband's power (sultan). As the result, Madame Thébault got international prominence in cinema. Since, garden and villa were named Roxelane (the first name of the garden). Whole of Madame Thébault's orchids are collected nowadays.
The Parnassus Garden incarnates Alabaster Coast of Normandy. Plants create a rock layers pattern of the cliffs. The mythological "Parnassus" is a tribute to the sacred mountain on top of which muse of art dwells, giving an inspiration to Garden's guests.
Inspired by famous Etretat cliffs, Claude Monet wrote his painting series "Les Falaises à Étretat". This famous canvas was painted on one of Etretat Gardens' terrace in 1886 and now is a part of Shchukin's eminent collection exhibited in Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
In 2016, Polish artist Wiktor Szostalo (www.facebook.com/wiktor.szostalo) installed at this place a monument to the impressionist who is working on the famous paysage. Take a look at spectacular view from Etretat Gardens through Monet's eyes!
In 2017, new parts of the Garden will be opened, symbolising the majestic cliffs of Etretat and the famous rock-arch La Falaise d'Avale. You will be impressed by compositions of Taxus baccata, in the form of half-arches, and the Garden of Sounds of nature, surrounded by white rhododendrons, as well as the Garden of Parnassus, offering a view of all the gardens and surroundings of Etretat.
A Haven of Tranquillity
Indulge yourself in the incredibly beautiful nature of this paradise of calm, near the Gulf of Etretat. Enjoy a breathtaking view.
Etretat Gardens will take you to another reality, where plants are transformed into rocks and merge with a coastline on the horizon, where the unique collection of contemporary art, skillfully combined in the idea of the Garden, will open new meanings and ways of perceiving the world.
History and Heritage
In 1905, a landscape artist from the nearby town of Fecamp, Auguste Lecanue, helped the actress Madame Thebault to plant the first tree on the Amon Cliff, thus giving life to the future Garden.
A gardener and specialist in the creation of grounds on the sea coast, Louvel Aine, was entrusted with the planting that would realise Madame Thebault’s dream.
The archive of documents and correspondence relating to the origin of the Garden have been carefully preserved and are kept to this day at the villa Roksolana.
Built by Parisian architect Louis Valentin on the highest cliff in Etretat, the villa was named after a stellar role of the owner, Madame Thebault – Roksolana, the unconquered and beautiful wife of Sultan Suleiman.
Today, the Garden has been revitalised in a new light, as a representation of man's aptitude in following nature.
The landscape architect Alexander Grivko and the IL NATURE landscape design team have restored the gardens of the villa Roksolana and created an extraordinary new version, where art meets nature.
Tree Huggers is an environmental art project that travels around the world. At the moment and until 2017, it is in the Gardens of Etretat.
The project was created in 2005 with the concept of reminding people of their childhood and relationship with nature in a fun, playful way.
The figures from biomass have been in seven countries and at three UN summits on climate change. The art project has visited the cities of New York, Moscow, Copenhagen, St Louis, Warsaw, Vienna and Darmstadt. The sculptures were made and installed with the help of volunteers from around the world.
The author of the project, artist Wiktor Szostalo, recognises that fostering a moral obligation to save the planet is the best way to deepen the relationship of humanity with nature. His works are meant to inspire people towards a responsible attitude towards the environment and care of natural resources.
What to Do?
After enjoying a walk along the rocky beach with unforgettable scenery, do not deny yourself the pleasure of closing your eyes and listening to the sounds of the Atlantic.
Inspiration will find you here, while the fresh sea breeze brings both harmony and excitement.
Take some unique photos of the historical Norman views this cosy and hospitable city affords!
For example, a view of the famous oyster farm dating from 1777, which delivered the seafood delicacy to the table of Marie Antoinette.
If you are hungry, welcome to the food court and the classics and elegance of authentic French cuisine.
Here you will find everything for a picnic in the spirit of the Normandy coast – a delicious menu, famous French pastries and fragrant coffee!