The Jardin Public (Public Garden) of Bordeaux is an example of a French garden, created in 1746. Its 11 hectares of refreshing air attract families, joggers and walkers in search of greenery and serenity in the shade of the redwoods. Here you will find children’s play areas, a botanical garden, the Museum of Natural History as well as a café and restaurant. Classified as an “outstanding garden of France”, the Jardin Public is the ideal place for an idyllic picnic.
Header image: Detail of “Jardin Public” by Les Instantanés de Bordeaux
A First Garden “à la Française”
The garden occupies the site of a former unproductive agricultural and vineyard land. In 1746, the intendant Tourny decided to tear up the vines to create a garden, in order to offer the people of Bordeaux a green lung for their well-being and their health, in the spirit of the humanists of the 18th century.
The landscape architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel was in charge of the realization of the plans of the garden in the style “à la française”. It is organized around a body of water and eight flower beds along a main path. Symmetry and perspective are the keywords. This vast green lung is enclosed by wrought-iron railings, of which the original ones still remain between Ducau Street and Place Longchamp, and on the Champ de Mars square.
Romanticism and Didacticism
The 19th century brought great changes to the configuration and atmosphere of the garden. The city lead by mayor Antoine Gautier inspired the redevelopment of the site by calling on the services of the landscape artist Louis Bernard Fischer, with the aim to create a place dedicated to leisure and relaxation but also to science. In 1856, the park took on an English style, with a romantic and less geometrical atmosphere, with the establishment of open lawns, winding alleys, a lake, scattered islets and suitable bridges. Charles Burguet, the architect of the city at the helm of this rehabilitation, restructured the esplanade and decorated it with statues and sculptures.
The educational and scientific aspect of the site was concentrated in the Botanical Garden in 1858, giving the public garden space dedicated to medicinal plants for the teaching and training of future apothecaries. To date, on over half a hectare, three thousand annual and perennial plant species are now gathered for the public to enjoy. In 1862, the Museum of Natural History moved into the former Hotel Lisleferme.
A Variety of Species
The Public Garden of Bordeaux is classified as an “outstanding garden of France” because of its collection of more than 1000 trees, among which many are centenarians. 300 species cohabitate here. One tree among the others stands out, the Pecan tree from the east of the United States, now over 38 meters tall.
The lake is an excellent meeting point for ducks, geese, swans, water hens and at times also herons, attracted by the fish and amphibians of the lake.
Passing the wrought iron gates, decorated with gilding and emblazoned with the coat of arms of the City of Bordeaux, the visitor will see his curiosity aroused by the variety of species and the tranquil yet living landscape. The romanticism and the rural atmosphere of the garden will make you forget the city and inspire the nature photographer in you.