The full version of this article originally appeared on page 36 of the May/June issue of the My French Country Home magazine. To subscribe and read the article, click HERE.
In the heart of Berry, central France, Orsan Priory hides a one-of-a-kind vegetable garden where beauty meets practicality. Inspired by medieval monastic designs, the Orsan garden and potager is a unique and enchanting visit at any time of year.
A former monastery, Orsan Priory was established in 1107 by preacher Robert d’Arbrissel. However, the gardens themselves have a much more recent history.
In 1991, architects Sonia Lesot and Patrice Taravella were in the mood for an ambitious renovation project and fell in love with the priory’s neglected but charming stone walls.
The garden is comprised of many small gardens, separated by hedge-lined paths, topiaries, sculpted trees, and walls. Patrice and Sonia’s first wish was to create a utilitarian space and also an area for calm reflexion.
In front of this, the Kitchen Garden also referred to as the potager aromatique, because of the herbs that line the 24-inch-deep raised beds. Sitting adjacent is the Medicinal Herb Garden: for centuries monks used to heal the sick with the beneficial properties of herbs. Over 50 different varieties are grown, no longer used medicinally but instead in tasty kitchen dishes!
Orsan Priory gardens are truly spectacular, in achieving both supreme beauty and good food – the true definition of a potager.
Text by Alice White Walker – Photography by Franck Schmitt