Oldest Botanical Garden in France
On Sunday I visited Montpellier. Montpellier is within the Languedoc region in the département de l’Hérault, near the Mediterranean.
During my visit to this corner of the Languedoc I was keen to see the Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier.
Established in 1593 it is the oldest botanical garden in France predating, my personal favourite, the Chelsea Physic Garden established in 1673.
At the request of Henri IV, this garden was the creation of Pierre Richer de Bellaval for the study of medicinal plants. Richer de Bellaval was a professor of botany and anatomy. Naturally, I was particularly excited to be visiting this garden.
Montpellier is historically important in the medical world.
La Faculty de Médecine, formed at the end of the 12th century, is one of the oldest operating medical schools in the western world.
So Montpellier is the perfect location to find a historical medicinal plant garden. At one time keenly used to learn the trade!
Over the years the garden has expanded and is no longer only for medicinal plants. It now includes some tropical green houses, an orangery, palm trees and an arboretum.
My trip was somewhat of a disappointment. The garden is currently undergoing some rehabilitation! Many areas were closed to the public. The central, and oldest section, essentially the medicinal plant area was sadly inaccessible.
The Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier was certainly in dire need of some TLC!
However, I was able to see the large, and well known, male Ginkgo tree of the garden planted in the late 18th century. Well over 200 years old.
There were several smaller Ginkgo trees too. Autumnal leaves and fruits strewn underfoot.
Unfortunately, I could find no information on the timescale for the renovation project. I hope the works at the Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier are finished when I next visit.
Should you visit Montpellier there is a wonderful morning market which is well worth a visit.