Sunday, 30 June 2019

Medieval Farm Garden - Jardin de Bois-Richeux

The Bois Richeux farm is one of the oldest farms in France. It is located outside the village of Pierres, near Maintenon in Eure-et-Loir.  Around since the Celtic times and druidesses such as Richeulde (who gave her name to the place), the farm and gardens have a very interesting history dating back to the 12th century. 

In 1178 Hugues de Boutigny, Lord of Gallardon, gave part of his land at Bois Richeux to the Chapter of the Cathedral of Chartres.  It was one of the first fortified farms to have a dovecote, which is still standing. The well at a depth of 68m in the centre of the courtyard has been closed over with a tufty plant for safety reasons.

In Carolingian times there were almost 500 peasants working on the farm. In the middle ages the lords of  Gallardon and Monfort L'Amaury erected a chapel at Bois Richeux on return from the first crusade. The chapel has been destroyed and in its place is a hormbeam-lined alley with benches you can sit on. It's pleasant on a hot day.
In 1679 the farm was acquired by Madame de Maintenon, the secret second wife of Louis XIV. The papers were countersigned by Louvois in the name of the king. In 1689, the niece of Madame de Maintenon (the latter had no children of her own) received the farm as a dowry on the occasion of her marriage to the Duc de Noailles and for more than three centuries the farm remained legally attached to the Chateau de Maintenon. 

Today the farm is private property. It is not possible to see inside the buildings, other than the reception area and the concert hall/previously the grange.

The medieval gardens were reestablished in 1996 from descriptions in archives dating from the 13th century. They are split up into 3 sections. Firstly, there are the formal gardens, which are marked out by trimmed hedges, made up mostly of plants that were used for medicinal purposes. You also come across the aromatic gardens which contain plants that are used to make the renowned Bois Richeux 1178 perfume.
JC bought me a bottle. Its scent is vegetal rather than made of flowers and it lasts a long time on your skin. It's not unpleasant and could be used for men and women. The top notes are basil, thyme, lavender and mint. The heart notes which form the body of the perfume are camphored rosemary, fennel and anise, celery, laurel/bay, sage, amber and musk. It's the latter which lasts the longest.

Lastly, there is the vegetable patch where edible flowers can also be found. The garden was suffering from record-breaking temperatures in France but was still lovely with its arches covered in roses, grapes, honeysuckle and sweet-peas.

Another interesting feature of the farm is the individual dog niches or kennels built into one of the farm buildings. The dogs were used to guard the sheep.

The farm sits on a rise and you can see La Beauce (the cereal-growing area of France) stretching out around 360 degrees. No wonder it was a fortified farm in olden times. 

Entry costs 6€, parking is easy but I do think on hot days there should be the provision to buy cold drinks since there are tables and chairs available outside.


Laura said...

Would love to visit this one someday! Looks lovely mum xx

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