The fabulous gardens of Normandy

July 11, 2013

The fabulous gardens of Normandy

The fabulous gardens of Normandy are famous for the diversity of their design and influences, so when Citroen wanted to create a look for their Xsara saloon and estate, they knew just where to go for inspiration

Archways of flowering blossom; half-timbered houses with creeper sweeping up and cascading down the walls; the blues and violets of walled gardens peppered with ancient dovecots…The gardens of Normandy are as diverse as they are beautiful. Seemingly thrown up out of the earth with an eye more for charm than detailed planning, they are in fact the result of imaginative, innovative design by men and women whose passion for creating a spectactular scene has inspired painters such as Picasso and authors such as Flaubert, who wrote Madame Bovary here.
There is the unexpectedly English garden at Le Bois de Moutiers, home since 1898 to the Mallet family. Designed in collaboration by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and the great garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, it has a sundial, a white garden and parkland swept with wild flowers. There is the romantic park that takes in three valleys at Chateau de Nacqueville; then the ‘Versailles of the
North’, Chateau de Beaumesnil, with its enchanting maze; and, of course, there is the house and garden that are as famous as their owner – the soft, light-suffused landscape that is Giverny, beloved home to the artist Claude Monet.
Design and planning are fundamental to a beautiful garden – the key factors that will ensure that what is created is both fashionably stylish and capable of standing the pace of time. These factors are as important to the design of a beautiful car. This is why the designers at Citroen have taken as inspiration the attention to detail that has been lavished on these four landscapes.
At Le Bois de Moutiers (one of the first privately owned homes and gardens to be opened to the public in France), Lutyens thought not just of beauty in design but comfort too. He placed gorgeous benches in shady corners for moments of rest, from where the visitor’s eye is led down Gertrude Jekyll’s celebrated pergolas to a wider view of beds filled with white tulips and hellebores.
At Chateau de Nacqueville. the romantic gardens were created in 1830 in sharp contrast to the very formal French gardens of the time. It was here that brilliant engineers perfected a hydraulic system to tame the streams and create some wonderful water features. This piece of high technology lies hidden behind what is still an inspirational look with its promenade bordered with a mass of white arum lilies and its white bridge with views over the central stream.
At Giverny. chosen by Monet for its beaut)- and its light and the pink and green house that overlooked a walled garden, the artist dared to be different and made his ‘flower garden” into a composition like a painting. The house acted like a central axis, divided by paths. In time, he added his famous pear-shaped pond, planted with willows and water-lilies. He concentrated on his own ideas, ignoring those of his contemporaries, to create an adventurous modem classic with a distinctive look.
Citroen, in turn, have created a look with the Xsara that is instantly recognisable as their own. Fresh, bold and contemporary in style, in a wide palette of vibrant colours, its sleek exterior hints at the innovative details inside. There is the clutch foot rest for long journeys; the stereo remote controls hidden discreetly in the steering wheel; the service maintenance indicator that tells the driver, electronically, when a service is required; the acoustically-engineered floorplan to reduce road noise; the latest generation of HDi diesel engines and the reach-adjustable steering wheel. All these features have been developed with an eye to detail and good design, and should please anyone wishing to tour in comfort.
Everything has been thought of – and the result is a car that is as French as a row of poplar trees and as pleasing as one of the great gardens of Normandy.

Category: Home remodeling

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