© Esther Westerveld - Flickr

Like a Monet painting

The water gardens of Carsac-Aillac

Over 300 plants from all over the world come together to brighten up the gardens, ponds, pergolas, streams, waterfalls and maze that make the site so special. There are 30 varieties of lotus, 150 types of water lilies, including some very rare ones for our latitudes, and dozens of riverbank aquatic plants. The experimental greenhouse is home to a giant tropical water lily from South America called the Cruziana!

Make a splash

A Remarkable Garden

Chuang-Tzu said the following in the 14th century: “If still water is so clear, how much more are the mental faculties…” If the Chinese thinker had seen this Remarkable Garden founded by the passionate Bernard family in 1999, he would have realised how much The Water Gardens by Carsac-Aillac reflect his words.

The rare collection of aquatic plants on an ancient Gallo-Roman site overlooks the Dordogne‘s untamed riverbanks. It provides an idyllic setting to let your mind wander through the perfect epitome of a zen garden.

A family passion

Steven has taken care of the garden for 20 years and tells us that a passion for paintings inspired the family project. It took imagination, perseverance and the perfect place, Périgord Noir for its tourist appeal and climate, to make this a peaceful and magical setting.

We join Paul and Camille among dazzling biodiversity with Japanese bridges that unfurl beneath out feet, the zig-zag bridge, a footbridge on the water built in accordance with the zen philosophy of Chinese Feng Shui. What’s it for? Focusing the walker’s attention on the place’s consciousness: “Be here, now.”

Fairytale nature

After a trip to a little bamboo garden, ideal for cooling off on hot days, the couple wander along the Lotus pond and 1200m² wild lagoon full of rustic water lilies.

We can see grass carp and little guppies swimming under the water lilies and helping the ponds to filter naturally. Biodiversity fans will be in seventh heaven given the incredible aquatic and land creatures that call the gardens home: salamanders, damselflies, dragonflies, kingfishers, tree frogs and lizards.

The two visitors are like big kids, having fun feeding the fabulous and colourful Koi and common carp. Children are bound to love it…

Like a Claude Monet painting

Our lovebirds continue their leafy walk over a Japanese bridge based on the famous Water Lilies series painted by Claude Monet.

Then it’s time to explore a real labyrinth on the water covering over 2800m². There’s no way you can get lost but you can let your mind wander… Benches shaded by pretty parasols create an oasis where you can soak up the setting.

We end the day with an ice tea on the shaded terrace next to the serene new pond peppered with water lilies. Soak up the feel-good factor!

Gare Robert Doisneau, a great meeting place

The lovebirds decided to end the morning at Gare Robert Doisneau in Carlux after their leisurely stroll. The building is named after a photographer who captured the start of paid holidays in France in 1937, among other things, and is now home to Pays de Fénelon Tourist Information.

A golden opportunity to visit a permanent photography exhibition and have a go at developing film in the interactive lab. It’s a great digital experience.

All that excitement works up an appetite… so head to Café de la Gare for a well-deserved lunch!