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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Modern Gardens in the Dordogne - Marqueyssac

I love visiting gardens. Once we made a ten day tour of gardens and country houses in England and I was practically ecstatic by the time we made it to Hidcote, which is a masterpiece of English country gardening. D. was something less than ecstatic, but lets not go into that here! In the Dordogne I had two "must visit" gardens on my list, Marqueyssac (above) and Les Jardins du Manoir d'Eyrignac - both of which exemplify  a restrained modern  garden style which is done so well in France.
In the tradition of Le Notre  these are gardens where layout and line are supreme. There are no bulging colorful informal borders here, stuffed full of summer blooms spilling every which way. No, this is the 'French Garden' where the traditions of restraint, sculpture, symmetry and form rule. However, in these modern gardens there's also a playful character with room for whimsy  as you can see in the striking undulations at Marqueyssac above and below. Yes there's plenty of irregularity but note how it's all all constrained by box hedge!

You can't visit these gardens without being bowled over by the modern topiaries which will have to be good enough until I get invited to see Prince Charles' gardens at Highgrove which look similarly amazing. At Marqueyssac (which is situated on the top of a promontory) it's also about the view - which this peacock was enjoying !
If you continue walking to the lookout through some of the wilder parts of the garden you're looking down on the river and the picturesque town of La Roque-Gageac which you can see below.

I love the whimsical placement of the topiaries below which look like they sprung up out of the grass on their own. I particularly like  the  circular topiary on the left which intersects and interrupts the border hedge, it has a very post modern feel.
In addition to the gardens at Marqueyssac you can see the chateau and several picturesque  outbuildings .
Unfortunately there wasn't much sun so the photos are rather dull, frankly at this stage we were thrilled it wasn't raining! In this area the roofs are traditionally made of stones piled on top of each other as you can see on the chateau roof  below which was undergoing a laborious restoration.
I very much enjoyed Marqueyssac but I must admit Les Jardins du Manoir d'Eyrignac were my favorite. I was going to combine the two into one post but I don't want to give Eyrignac short shrift so I'll leave you with one more photo of the splendid Marqueyssac gardens and leave my full description of Eyrignac for the next post.