On our recent roadtrip to the Austrian Alps, we broke up both legs of the journey with a stopover in France. Conveniently, three hours drive from the port of Calais landed us slap in the centre of Champagne country. It seemed rude not to take advantage, and thoroughly sample this region.
Leaving the highway, it was a relief for the eyes to fix on something besides the highly smooth and efficient yet monotonous flatlands of the motorway. And I was particularly struck by the public plantings snugly fitted into pockets all across the townscapes.
From roundabouts, in otherwise fairly unprepossessing areas:
to little pouches of colour nestled regularly along the edges of the road. I admired their inventive combinations of perennials and bedding plants: no two entirely alike.
There was something particularly entertaining about the first/final planting at the limits of each town.
An abrupt transition from town to prairie.
How lovely that the authorities lavish such care on their streets.
We spent a couple of days in Epernay, including a tour of the Moet et Chandon cellars which was fascinating, as well as slightly intoxicating. Here the selection of plants was different again, with various grasses amid the glorious plantings around a tribute to the martyrs on the roundabout at the foot of the Avenue de Champagne.
The proprietors of the champagne houses that line their eponymous avenue paid particular attention to the front of house.
There were tantalising glimpses into privately owned orangeries, and through stone arches into lush gardens. Out on the street, I was also momentarily transfixed by the fruits on these wonderful trees set into the pavement.
All in all, public planting seems to be something that the French do very well.
Not the only thing.
These attractive municipal displays inspired me to write this: my first post for Michelle at VegPlotting’s regular series on public planting. Head on over to her blog to read more.