After the honey harvest, Amelia and I gave ourselves a few days of holiday and went to the Corrèze region of France. We discovered that the area around Brive-la-Gaillarde was both beautiful and had so many pretty towns and attractions that we promised ourselves to return in future.
One of the calmest and most wonderful visits we made was to the Gardens of Colette. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, simply known as Colette, was a famous French writer, who was born in 1873 and died in 1954. She is the second woman that has been admitted among the ten members of the literary l’académie Goncourt.
The garden at Varetz was created in 2007 to celebrate Colette’s life and work. It is near the Chateau de Castel Novel which at one time belonged to Henri de Jouvenel, the second husband of Colette. Colette wrote several of her books in that Chateau. The garden covers over 5 hectares of land and represents six different regions of France where she lived and which influenced her writing.
Colette maintained her independent thoughts on how she led her life. In her writings. she expressed her free thinking: ” Une femme qui se croit intelligente réclame les mêmes droits que l’homme. Une femme intelligente y renonce. ” – “The woman who thinks she is intelligent demands equal rights with men. A woman who is intelligent does not.”
I loved the simple rose that is named after her.
She was certainly a beautiful woman and also had a great sense of humour. She said that she regretted nothing that she had done in her life. One could not help but smile when she wrote: “When she raises her eyelids, it’s as if she were taking off all her clothes.”
She lived life to the fullest and she wrote: “Faites des bêtises, mais faites-les avec enthousiasme.” – “Do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm!”
What I liked most about the garden was its simplicity; its oneness with nature, with arrangements that were sympathetic with the kind of life that Colette had lived. We walked through the Tunnel végétal to reach the Jardin Provençal, remembering when she lived in Saint Tropez (1926-1938).
Amelia was in her elements, taking pictures of her favourite flowers and bees. September can be such a beautiful month in Corrèze.
The garden of Corrèze reflected the period that she lived in Castel Novel at Varetz (1911 – 1923) , just behind the present garden. The flowers and the rock really captured the beauty of that countryside.
There is a little seat in the vegetable garden which really took my fancy. Of course Colette did not see this garden, but I would like to imagine her sitting there some time before her death at the age of 81, and writing the piece in her novel, The Vagabond. “So now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days.”