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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 of the Dordogne - Les Jardins du Manoir d'Eyrignac

Despite the rain I loved the gardens at Eyrignac. This is such a magical place. It doesn't have the view that you can enjoy at Marqueyssac but there's an intimacy here. It feels like a family home and you can see the newer areas where they're extending the garden into the surrounding fields which I enjoyed. This garden feels like a work in progress.
Parts of the garden are marked by regularity and repetition in the traditional French style (see above) but it's also modern and whimsical as you can see below. The topiaries feel like chess pieces that have run across the lawn when we weren't looking and now  they've paused momentarily as we turn our heads back towards  them.
I particularly liked these spouting frogs and the red bench which draws the eye through the gardens. 
There are a number of places where urns, benches and sculpture are artfully used to direct lines of sight through the greenery.

At the heart of the garden is the tiny chapel, which you can peak into, and the family home which is not open to visitors. The estate, the website declares,  been in the same family  for twenty two generations. 
You can feel the sense of people and place in this garden which has a very intimate familial feel. Yes, it's a commercial experience - you buy a ticket,  eat at the cafe and you exit through the gift shop, but the place speaks to you through the views, lines and curves of the plants which are captivating.
As you can see we had a great time despite the drizzle. Highly recommended to anyone who finds themselves nearby. I only wish I could make it there for their European Heritage Days where, for two days a year you're invited to walk on the grass, explore every private  of the garden and go inside the Manor, it sounds like fun!