Jardins de la Fontaine in Nimes, southern France. Oct 2008.
Just a corner of this vast public garden, Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Source) were laid out in 1750 and include the ruins of an ancient temple of a sacred spring. They are the first public gardens in the history of France and among the first in Europe.
Work on the flow of water from the spring in the 18th century uncovered a site from the Roman period of about 1 BC. [The town of Nimes was occupied by the Romans in 121 B. C.] The design and layout of the garden was then carried out around this site, in the French style and decorated with canals, bridges and life-size Baroque marble statues.
The gardens extend over several levels, the lowest forming the water-basins and the waterways joining them. At the south end of the garden is the “Temple of Diana.” Probably dating from the 2nd century, its actual purpose is unknown.
One of my favourite formal gardens, it feels tranquil, historical, and the perfect place to wander on a hot summer’s day.