The gardens date back as far as the 1650s, but the majority of works occurred in the late 1700s in preparation for a chateau that was never built. From 1900 the gardens fell into disrepair before Jean d'Albertas, a decendant of the original family, rallied support for government intervention in 1949. For the price of a 3.5€ ticket you too can explore the restored gardens.
This long pool is the first structure you meet after the 'welcome fountain' in the parking area.
Then you head through a wrought iron gate, past the stone cool room on the left there.
The main fountain lies in the middle of the grounds.
Eight tritons (mermen) laze about the edges, spurting water out of horns. Perhaps mermaids dig that?
There are four statues above the main fountain: the god Mars, David (of Goliath fame), a larger version of the Borghese Gladiator and Hercules.
Interestingly, Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek hero Heracles. The Romans adopted the original Greek story, making only a few minor changes, and now the world refers to the figure as Hercules. It must annoy the Greeks to no end.
It would be safe to say Hercules was a fairly highly strung fellow. After killing his children (apparently Hera made him do it, but that excuse just wouldn't wash with me) he performed 12 labours to atone for his act. The first labour was to kill the Nemean lion, whose skin was impervious to any weapon. Our boy succeeded by strangling the poor critter and this statue carries the lion's skin.
My kids don't care how many impervious lions you've killed, they're still going to poke your bare bottom with a stick. I'm sorry Herc.
One level up we found a smaller octagonal fountain, lush lawns and ornamental hedges.
Returning home we had a quick tub before heading over to our neighbours' house for goûter (afternoon tea). This was the first time we'd spoken together at length, and it was a great afternoon - we spoke (in French) for three hours! We got to ask lots of questions about the area and learned something very interesting about our property.
The yard behind our neighbours, which is fenced off from us but not from them, actually belongs to our landlord. And on that yard is a big 'ole fig tree, with more figs than our neighbours can eat. They implored me to please jump the fence whenever I wanted and help myself to the figs.
I wiped the drool from my chin and thanked them very much. The very next night I jumped the fence to check it out and took these photos.
If you don't hear back from me within a week, assume I have died from fructose poisoning.
And just because: some cathedral window eye candy - completion is nigh!