Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Annevoie Gardens: "Les Jardins d'Annevoie", Belgium (July 26)

At 1 week old we thought we should integrate Reagan into our desire to travel about every weekend. Thus, we loaded up the baby gear and headed to The Annevoie Gardens, just a little over an hour away between Namur and Dinant. Some of our friends, Stephanie and Rick Cohan, went to them earlier in the Summer and said they were pretty neat. We agreed after seeing the beautifully groomed gardens and its amazing natural water fountains.

Reagan did great, so I think we'll be doing several more daytrips if not overnight trips in the near future. She even timed her diaper change perfectly, as she decided to give us a nice present right as we arrived at the Gardens instead of while we were touring them! She also slept most of the time which made our first outing seem quite easy.

After visiting The Annevoie Gardens, we tried to visit the Spontin castle nearby, but once we arrived, we were told by some folks in the town that they don't do tours anymore and is thus closed to the public. It's a pretty neat castle with a moat and some towers, so we were a bit bummed. I've been by it numerous times since it's very close to Dinant; oh well, there's a ton of other castles to visit in Belgium and the rest of Europe!

Anyway, here is a little background on The Annevoie Gardens:

The Annevoie Gardens were designed and laid out by Charles-Alexis de Montpellier in the 18th century. They remained family property until 2000, when ownership passed to Stephan Jourdain. The gardens have been constantly improved over the years to reflect current trends.

Three styles exist:
The French Style - art enhancing nature. One keynote: symmetry. This architecture shuns curves and bends, preferring to create long majestic vistas.

The Italian Style - art in tune with nature. An architecture which emphasizes contrasts, variety and surprise effects. The water features have pride of place.

The English Style: art imitating nature. Aiming to reproduce a natural effect by artificial means, this architecture follows the return-to-nature movement espoused by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the English Romantics.

Water has flowed naturally in the Annevoie Gardens for over 250 years, relying solely on natural differences in levels and without resorting to machinery. The gardens are crossed by a network of surface and underground canals. Water runs down the hills beside the Chateau thanks to the main reservoir of the Grand Canal. The entire system is governed by the simple principle of communicating vessels.

Open from April - October every day from 9:30 - 5:30 and in July and August from 9:30 - 6:30. (Entrance Fee)

Places of interest nearby include: Dinant Citadel, Maredsous Abbey, Freyr Chateau and Veves Chateau

Here is the website for further information: http://www.annevoie.be/

Shannon toted Reagan around in her baby bjorn carrier most of the day. She actually slept most of the time.
Some examples of the gardens and fountains

I loved the fish fountains
They even had large vegetable and fruit plots in a few sections of the gardens.
There were a few covered tree pathways which were interesting. One even had a 'love fountain' in it.
Some more peaceful looking fountains
Posing by the Rose gardens
Reagan and I enjoying the beautiful scenery
Beautiful Chateau on the grounds
Overlooking the gardens
Shannon trying to show off Reagan in the carrier, but we didn't want to disturb our sleeping beauty too much for photos!
Just another angle of the grounds
These are Raspberry bushes which I heard you can pick if you're visiting the gardens when they're ripe. Unfortunately, we were a bit too late and they were picked dry except for 1 or 2 Shannon found which tasted pretty good.
Some larger more natural setting fountains
Overview of the gardens
I loved how the hedges looked so perfect which is the case in most of Belgium's parks and gardens

1 comment:

Simone said...

Beautiful Ali! We will have to get directions from you guys b/c we have definitely added these gardens to our list!