When driving down the backroads of France near Uzés, it’s a common sight to ride alongside tall stone walls. You know these beautifully laid stones must conceal something amazing. Perhaps behind French garden walls there’s a story to be told.
Behind French Garden Walls
Not too long ago I was privileged to be invited to visit inside the stone walls of a property I’d passed by often. I was given a tour through the magnificent seventeenth century home and the gardens, as well.
It was everything I’d imagined. And more.
The home is owned by a charming Belgian woman whom I’ve been privileged to know over the last two years. She bought the property in 1992.
Built in 1684, the house was part of a farm that later was devoted to the production of silk worms. A “Magnanerie” to the French.
My friend was unsure of the dates the property was used for silk worm farming, but during a period of time after the house was built, the silk industry in France was heavily supported by the government. “There were 2000 mulberry trees planted on the property at one time,” she said.
History shows that under Louis IV, grants, free water usage, interest-free mortgages and more were offered to encourage silk production.
By 1815 the French were dominant suppliers of silk traded around the world. There were over 2300 communes in France that cultivated mulberry trees and milled silk, employing up to 350,000 people. More than half of them were in and around the Cevennes.
In 1809, the Prefect of the Gard counted 1,140,680 mulberry trees and 4,713,000 in 1831.
Silks from France experienced a blow in the mid-nineteenth century when an epidemic fatal to silkworms hit the region. Never fully recovered from the setback, the Franco-Prussian War, the opening of the Suez Canal, and the introduction of nylon, were the final death knell to the silk industry France had known.
Behind French Garden Walls
A vineyard of 1200 apple trees replaced the chestnut trees behind the garden wall sometime during the twentieth century, my friend said. She removed most of them to install an array of gardens, filled largely with roses.
Today the garden and house are open only to invited friends and visitors. I visited in the Fall then asked for photos taking of the gardens during the summer. So you can see how the seasons change so beautifully around the Magnanerie.
The interior of the home is arranged and decorated just as artistically as the massive property.
I hope you have enjoyed this visit behind one of the garden walls of France. For any who might be more than intrigued, the home and property are for sale.
Perhaps it’s your turn to live the “dream.”
Categories: Around France, Day Trip, Living in France, Loving History, Village Scenes in Uzes
I drool profusely. What a stunning property.
You would love it, Princessa. You must come again to visit!
What a beautiful spot. Thanks for the lovely presentation.
I loved seeing this up close. When are you back in France? Thanks for the note.
Beautiful! And the history of silk in France was very interesting; I didn’t know that France had been such a big silk-producing country.
Thanks, Keith. There’s a lot of history to learn yet. Lyon is a great place to go for another part of the silk story.
Love the history and photos, as usual well written and fascinating !
Glad you’ve had a chance to see these beautiful stone walls near Uzés for yourself, John. Thanks for staying in touch.