The French have a long history of exquisite gardens and have produced some of the most renowned landscape architects in the world. Dordogne, the department in southwest France, is home to an astounding number of stunning gardens. In this article, I want to help you discover the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne and help you plan a day trip around the visit.
From sweeping views over rivers and valleys to manicured trees and flowers, there’s a great variety of green spaces in this region. The wonderful thing about visiting gardens is that it’s for everyone – whether you love nature, sightseeing, history, picnics, or family outings, you’ll enjoy a trip to one of the spots on this list! Here are some of my personal favorites.
Before we start, check out my other guides about the Dordogne region:
And if you love beautiful parks and gardens, check out my article about the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux.
The best gardens to visit in Dordogne
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac
If you can only visit one garden in Dordogne, Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is the one you need to go to. It’s definitely the most impressive garden in the Dordogne department, if not in the whole Southwest of France.
The gardens were created in the 19th century by Julien de Cerval, a visionary aristocrat who was so passionate about box tree gardens he planted 150,000 boxwoods in Marqueyssac. These shrubs are still pruned by hand today and are surrounded by waterfalls and panoramic views of the Dordogne.
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is especially kid-friendly, and the perfect place for a family outdoor day when traveling in the Dordogne. Your little explorers will enjoy navigating through a fascinating labyrinth of greenery. The park also offers two playgrounds and a small tree net adventure course that kids love.
In summer they offer yoga classes in the gardens and you can buy a combined ticket for the gardens and the nearby Château de Castelnaud, which is definitely worth a visit.
If you’re there in July and August, go in the evening for a magical, romantic experience – gardens by candlelight! They light up the narrow walkways between the boxwoods with 2,000 candles for a stunning stroll as it gets dark.
You can buy drinks and snacks from the crêperie or the sandwich stall on the grounds, or grab a table at the more elegant sit-down restaurant with its wonderful view.
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is open every day of the year, but be sure to check the website before you go because the opening times differ based on the season. I’d recommend buying your tickets online to avoid lines.
What to do nearby: The Marqueyssac Gardens are located in the most interesting region in Dordogne, just a few minutes drive from places like Sarlat, Beynac, La Roque Gageac, and other stunning villages of Perigord Noir.
Eyrignac et ses Jardins
Eyrignac and its gardens (Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac), a historic monument in the Périgord Noir part of the Dordogne is a beautiful part of local history. The house and its gardens have been in the same family for 22 generations and are superbly maintained by a passionate team of gardeners.
The manor house dates back to the 17th century and the French-style gardens have undergone numerous overhauls to keep up with gardening fashions over time, but have since been restored to their original 18th-century splendor! Gilles Sermadiras had the vision to restore the land and his son, Patrick Sermadiras de Pouzols de Lile, is currently in charge of preserving the secret garden.
The plants and flowers surrounding the manor house come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are over 300 different clipped, trimmed, and pruned bushes, shrubs, hedges, and trees. Prepare to be blown away!
In terms of food, there’s the Côté Jardins restaurant and tea room as well as a shady picnic spot.
The gardens at Eyrignac are a wonderful place for the whole family, offering plenty of fun activities for kids and adults alike. There are free puzzles for the whole family to play with and each child is given a surprise gift at the end of their visit. There is also an adventure quiz (available in French and English) and other fun activities. Finally, they have strollers, changing tables, and children’s menus available.
The Eyrignac domain hosts fantastic events all year long. White picnics are held every Monday in summer with fireworks, music, and dancing with sunset views over the Dordogne Valley. An Easter Egg hunt for littles is offered on Easter.
If you’re planning on visiting Eyrignac et ses Jardins this summer, book your tickets here.
What to do nearby: The Eyrignac Gardens is located about 13 km from Sarlat, which is a must-visit. In 15 minutes you can also get to Saint-Geniès, another lovely little town in Perigord Noir. Just a few minutes drive from there you can find Château de Salignac, a family-owned chateau with a beautiful view over the old town.
Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil
Les Jardins Panoramiques de Limeuil are situated on the banks of the Dordogne River, in one of the most beautiful villages in the Purple Perigord. These famous gardens boast some of the most marvelous views of both the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers.
The botanical gardens were created in the 19th century by Docteur Linarès at the end of a long career spent taking care of the Sultan of Morocco. The transformation he brought about at the house and the gardens was inspired by his travels in North Africa. The whole site was entirely rehabilitated in 2004.
Panoramic Gardens of Limeuil is home to many different types of gardens. You’ve got the Mediterranean wellbeing garden dedicated to relaxation and mindfulness with plants that help you do just that. There’s a medieval garden where you can learn about what plants were used for back in the day and a colorful flower garden.
You’ll also find a space dedicated to healing plants with magical powers and a water garden with flowing streams and waterfalls. Finally, there’s the insect garden with flowers that help keep the important bee and insect populations safe.
The panoramic gardens of Limeuil are the perfect spot for kids to learn, explore, and play. There are giant games of chess and checkers as well as regular-sized games and a wishing tree where children can write down and hang up their wishes. You can even participate in an escape game for the whole family in the gardens – what fun!
In summer you can stop by the Taverne for cold and warm drinks as well as ice creams and lunch snacks to take with you on a picnic in the gardens.
The gardens are open from April to November – see the opening hours here. The gardens are located in the upper part of the village, while the parking is at the bottom village, taking into account that a bit of walking is required to get there. Some parking places are available just next to the park for people with reduced mobility.
What to do nearby: While you’re there, don’t miss the village of Limeul, one of the most beautiful villages in the region. There are so many magical alleys, houses and art shops there, that you need at least a few hours to discover it properly. The town of Bugue is nearby too – you can actually cycle there – and it has a great market on Tuesdays and plenty of attractions for kids.
Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire in Terrasson-Lavilledie
Created in 1996 by Pierre Delmon, the mayor of the town where they are located, Terrasson-Lavilledie, these gardens bring together human history, contemporary art, and fun events.
The imagination gardens were designed by Kathryn Gustafson, an internationally acclaimed landscape architect. So if you’re interested in gardens and architecture, there are quite a lot of special elements there. My sister-in-law, who is a landscape architect, was quite ecstatic when I sent her the photos from the gardens.
There are guided tours that last just over an hour taking place all summer long. You’ll explore the modern, block-shaped plants and the romantic blue flowers overlooking the blue roofs of the town below.
You can also enjoy walking through the water fountains on a hot day and contemporary greenhouses. In total, there are 13 different parts of the garden with 2,000 rose bushes and 8,000 trees.
This summer you can enjoy fun Electronic Garden evenings with DJ sets, lights, and dancing at Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire. Be sure to book your tickets early so you don’t miss out!
It’s not one of my top three gardens in Dordogne, but we definitely spent a great time there with the kids on a hot day. So definitely worth it if you’re traveling in that part of the Dordogne. The gardens are open from April to October, see the opening hours here.
What to see nearby: Take time to stroll the streets of Terrasson-Lavilledieu, it’s one the more lovely towns in the eastern part of Dordogne. Within only 15 minutes drive you’ll get to Saint-Amand-de-Coly, another exquisite village with its famous historical site. The famous Lascaux caves are also located not far from the gardens.
Château et jardins de Losse
Not far away from Terrasson, in the heart of the Vézère valley, sits the Losse castle and its gardens, a true gem on the river banks. The Losse family built the castle on the right bank of the Vézère in the 11th century and over time grew into an influential family, working closely with the French royal families and becoming known as great soldiers in the army.
The Jardins de Losse consists of a rose garden, an arbor, manicured lavender fields, carefully trimmed, lattice-shaped hedges, various ancient fountains, and trees with magical blossoms. Taking a walk through the château gardens is like taking a trip back in time – you’ll be transported by the smells of fresh flowers, the sound of the river below and the birds in the trees, and the peacefulness of the lush greenery.
There are wonderful activities and events that take place at Château de Losse during the tourist season. These include the Soirée Étoiles, candlelit evenings with jazz concerts taking place in the summer
It’s also a very family-friendly visit, offering a treasure hunt in the gardens for kids ages 5-11. There’s also a lovely restaurant and tea room for lunch as well as a cute gift shop in the stunning, ancient Tower of Sainte-Marguerite.
The Losse castle and gardens are open every day from April 16th to November 13th. See the opening hours here.
What to do nearby: is located just between the stunning village of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère and the world-renowned Lascaux caves. In general, there are plenty of things to do with kids in this part of Dordogne.
Les Jardins de Cadiot
Les Jardins de Cadiot in Perigord Noir is far wilder or sauvage than the other gardens on this list, but equally beautiful and worth a visit.
They are made up of ten individual gardens, including a traditional French potager or vegetable garden and a fairytale-like labyrinth, especially loved by children. There is also an English-inspired garden and one in an Italian style, and both will take your breath away.
The peony garden is a very special one to visit in May when the 100 different varieties are blooming. Contrasting the lush greenery are contemporary outdoor sculptures from a Zimbabwean artist, making for a wonderful walk through all 10 spaces.
The child-friendly outing is a must during your visit to Dordogne. It’s open every day from May to September and you can check the blooming calendar on their website to time your visit with your favorite flowers. There’s also a lovely tea room with delicious cakes onsite.
What to do nearby: The gardens are located close to the border of the Lot department which is another part of France, abundant with stunning villages. Some villages with visiting nearby are Souillac and Sarlat in Perigord Noir.
Les Jardins d’Eau
A walk through these refreshing water gardens in Carsac-Aillac is the perfect summer activity for the whole family. At this family-run fairytale park, Steven Bernard proudly maintains what his parents created 20 years ago. Passionate about water flowers, his parents, Didier and Claude, moved down to the Périgord from Normandy in search of a warmer climate for their plants.
The walk through the gardens has plenty of benches where you can sit down and admire the plants as well as the peacefulness. Surrounded by babbling brooks, picturesque water lilies, and colorful lotus flowers, your whole family is sure to love this outing, especially in summer.
Les Jardins d’Eau is home to 55 varieties of colorful water lilies, known as nymphéa in French and deriving their name from the magical fairy-like creatures. There are also large, golden Koi fish and splendid little frogs who call this place home.
There is a lovely picnic space if you bring your own lunch and you can buy cold drinks and ice creams at the gift shop and on sunny days you can rent a parasol or sunshade. Dogs are welcome, so this really is a spectacular day out for the whole family!
Nearby you can visit the beaches of the Dordogne River as well as the cute town of Montfort.
Les Jardins d’Eau is open every day from May to September – see opening hours here.
Les Jardins de Sardy
Les Jardins de Sardy are built around a fortified 18th-century Italian-style farm and underwent a total facelift in the mid-1900s. Parisian couple Betty, originally Irish, and Bertie Imbs acquired the land in 1956 with the dream of creating a garden.
The property was in a state of disrepair but Betty saw the potential, inspired by her years living in England and working in the art of gardening. Luckily the couple was friends with renowned architect Louis Aublet and he helped them restore the property to its original charm.
Today, Frédéric Imbs, their son, and his wife Ninon have taken over and opened the gardens to the public.
As you make your way through the gardens starting in the courtyard, pleasant smells drift into the air. Delicate water lilies, Cypress trees, pink crape myrtles, Hornbeams, olive groves, and perfectly manicured shrubs are just some of the beautiful plants to be found at Les Jardins de Sardy. The highlight of the gardens is the magnificent rectangular pool with its water fountains, water lilies, Koi fish, and arum lilies.
Finish off your visit at the sweet café for a drink and a view over the peaceful greenery. Les Jardins de Sardy are open every day from May to September. See the opening hours here.
In summer they sometimes host classical music concerts in the gardens, which make for a very romantic outing. It is highly recommended to book your spot for one of their concerts by calling or emailing them at 05 53 27 51 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
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