After extensive restoration work, Marqueyssac was opened to the public in March 1997. Today, it is the most visited garden in Périgord. The park, designed for walking, is situated on a spur and overlooks the entire Dordogne Valley with its chalky cliffs. It reveals the most spectacular panoramic view possible of Périgord.
The paths are organised into three circuits that lead to the Belvedere (le Belvédère – t), 800 meters from the chateau. This belvedere is a fabulous balcony, 192 meters high and 130 meters above the river, which unveils an exceptional panoramic view of the Dordogne valley.
Planted relentlessly, during the XIXth century, boxwoods constitute the main theme of the walks. They are set-off by an arrangement showing great imagination and full of movement, at the expense of symmetry and regularity. Its layout with its sinuous paths, the roundness and rolling aspect of the boxwood give Marqueyssac softness and romanticism, contributing to the harmony that the gardens have with the hills in the landscape of the Dordogne Valley.
The gardens of Marqueyssac listed as a National Historical Monument offer more than 6 kilometers of shaded paths, edged with 150 000 hand-pruned boxwoods aged over hundred years.
In its current form, the chateau is a late 18th-century luxury
residence, built on the eve of the French Revolution….
The residence has two different sides. Facing the valley, Marqueyssac reveals a wide front flanked by a central tower containing the staircase. At the back, the layout is much more intimate, opening out onto the park which was reserved for the enjoyment of the residents.
Constructed with great simplicity, Marqueyssac displays a remarkable roof made from material typical of the region : limestone slabs (lauze) or stone tiles. The roof weighs more than 500 tons and was restored during these last 5 years.
In the park, much has been created to make the walks more interesting eg. belvederes, sinuous pathways, small staircases, three drystone huts, a large esplanade designed for recreation and elegant receptions, a small rotunda, a wayside cross, rock gardens, benches carved into the rock…
Many additions which accentuate the beauty of the site…
The Gardens of Marqueyssac strech along a spur on the Dordogne valley with an east and west exposure.
The vegetation is quite remarkable because of the calcium soil and the lack of water also its particular aspect.
On the southern slope of the park, holm oak, traditional oak, maple & berry are planted. These trees which are usually found in the Mediterranean climate have adapted themselves to the dry soil of Marqueyssac. The dark and evergreen foliage of the holm oak is the origin of the « Black Perigord » in the area of Sarlat. On the contrary, on the northern side of the park which is more humid, can be found an atlantic vegetation eg. horbeams, rural maple and oaks.
In 1861, Julien de Cerval who was a passionate gardener inherited Marqueyssac and dedicated the last thirty years of his life to the beautification of Marqueyssac. He planted tens of thousand of boxwoods which give Marqueyssac a dominante green colour making it a unique garden.
The Bastion with its rolling aspect and with its sinuous paths is typical of landscaping done in France under Napoleon III.
The Bastion is similar as the gardens found in Italy and gives to Marqueyssac an Italian flavour because of its terraces and cypress trees.
On the entirely of Marqueyssac’s estate, the wild & romantic nature is set in a nexus of boxwoods.
Having a passion for agronomy, Julien de Cerval, was responsible for the introduction of the ornamental species found in the park : the lime tree, the Judas-tree, the liburnum, the plantain and the elm tree. Passionately interested in Italian culture, he planted cypresses and umbrella pines in Marqueyssac. Lastly, Julien de Cerval planted the small Naples cyclamen, which today forms a fabulous coloured carpet from August to October.
In 1996, towards the end of the restoration work an old stone path was found under the vegetation. Today as you walk along, you can smell the perfume of the herbs like santolina, rosemary or lavender perfectly adapted to the local conditions.
Signs & panels
All along your circuit, beautifully illustrated signs give many details in order to take full advantage of the park.
Many notices highlight the scenery. They underline the beauty of the Dordogne valley, its history and geography
and the life of its inhabitants. At the same time, the information is developed around the discovery of nature.
From a study of the fauna and flora of the estate, a nature circuit has been designed in a spirit of pleasure and educational methods.