In the village of Saint-Michel l’Observatoire, close to Apt and Forcalquier, one of the most charming gardens of Upper Provence can be found. Known as the garden of the Priory of Saint-Michel, this little haven of peace is registered with the regional Parks & Gardens Committee.
This little piece of greenery, a genuine oasis in the heart of the local scrubland, or “garrigue,” is, as its name indicates, adjacent to a priory, a sort of little monastery that gives the place all its charm. During your visit, first you will discover a splendid French formal garden, recognizable by its hedges pruned to perfection, its two fountains and its statue of Venus, all dating back many hundreds of years.
You will fall under the charm of the garden’s second space, bound by a rampart dating from medieval times. From here it is possible to look at a magnificent old Provençale dovecote. But the two real gems of this idyllic garden are on one hand its alley of two-hundred-year-old olive trees smelling deliciously of Provence. And on the other its panoramic 360° view over Forcalquier country, mountainous and wild, that you must absolutely stop to admire when the sun is shining and the cicadas are singing.
As well as the numerous varieties of plants and flowers, which, when in flower, add thousands of colors to the this already exquisite garden, fruit trees add a finishing touch to this rustic scene worthy of an old master. The only drawback: this private garden is only open to the public during the Rendez-vous au Jardin festival and the Journées du Patrimoine heritage days, and for the concerts given in the church adjacent to the priory between June and September.
If you would like to take advantage of one of these events to visit the sublime garden, make the most of your trip to Saint-Michel l'Observatoire to visit the place that gives the town its name, Upper Provence’s astronomical observatory. It is very popular with scientists and amateur astronomers, especially during the month of August for La Nuit des Etoiles astronomy festival.
Le Prieuré de Saint Michel
04870 Saint Michel l'Observatoire
T 04 92 76 64 13
Observatoire astronomique de Haute-Provence
04870 St.Michel l'Observatoire
T 04 92 70 64 00