See you at the 2024 gardens: discover this little piece of China in the heart of Yvelines

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Julie Eslan

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May 30, 2024 at 12:16 p.m.

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Traveling to China in the middle of Yvelines is possible. The Yili garden in Saint-Remy-l’Honoré, the only traditional Chinese garden in France, is taking part in the Rendez-Vous aux jardins 2024. On this occasion, it will open its doors all weekend, from May 31 to June 2, 2024.

In the meantime, 78- offers you a little overview of this little corner of greenery, unlike any other.

“A three-dimensional painting”

Barely through the portal and you are in a completely different universe. Goodbye to the great plains of Saint-Rémy-l’Honoré, and hello to China. THE 10,000 m² of Yili Garden are divided into three parts. The entrance is in the first of them: the garden of letters.

“In China, the garden is as much a place of exchange with friends and with nature as it is a place of education and learning for children.”

Qiaofang Shi, owner of Yili Garden

Immediately, your eyes will be drawn to the greenery, the stones and the water point in the center. But the most notable in this first garden are the four traditional kiosks made of cedar wood, imported directly from China. Each of them houses a major principle of Chinese education: the game of go, painting, music and calligraphy.

You will start by visiting the kiosk around the game of go, a strategy game from China considered one of the most difficult in the world. This shelter, rather refined, consists of a game table with its legendary wooden pieces.

The 10,000 m² of the Yili Garden are divided into 3 distinct parts: the letters garden, the peony garden and the bonsai garden. ©Julie Eslan

You will then cross a bridge over the waterhole. On your left, you will have a sublime view of the bamboo forest. On your right, you will see the next kiosk: calligraphy.

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In the latter, a large table on which are arranged brushes and a parchment. Those who wish can try their hand at traditional writing and drawing, to the sound of birdsong.

A few hundred meters further, in the middle of the greenery, you will arrive under a kiosk different from the others: the bandstand. Inside, three strangely shaped stones. One of them is placed on a platform.

The Yili garden in Saint-Rémy-l’Honoré (Yvelines) is the only private traditional Chinese garden in France. ©Julie Eslan

The latter will produce a melodious sound if you tap on it. The sound changes depending on where you tap, making it a real instrument. At the bottom, a space in the wall, like a painting, provides a bird’s-eye view of the Yvelines hills.

“I wanted that no matter where you looked, there would be something to look at. This garden has been designed in depth, like a three-dimensional painting. »

Qiaofang Shi

Finally, you will end your visit at the painting kiosk. It is here that the traditional Chinese dancers paint while dancing to a musical background. This kiosk is relatively empty (only the back wall is covered with a canvas) to allow them to be free to move around.

The peony garden and the bonsai garden

You have toured the garden of letters. But rest assured, you still have two very distinct spaces to visit. To start with the peony garden. The latter is built in a square and is structured around a large stone ying and yang symbol. In China, the peony is a symbol of wealth and success.

A place of perfect harmony therefore, as intended ying and yang philosophy. Peonies (the emblematic flower of China) are everywhere.

Stretch of grass Yili Garden
At the Yili garden in Saint-Rémy-l’Honoré, the visit costs €7. ©Julie Eslan

Finally, your visit will end in the bonsai garden. Here, the song of birds gives way to croaking frogs since the place lives around a large central water point. Numerous bonsai trees gravitate all around and, at the bottom, there is a covered space in which tea tasting (and sometimes Chinese snacks) takes place.

This is also where receptions and the events organized by the Yili garden. In particular, the meeting between the mayor of Saint-Rémy-l’Honoré and the mayor of Changzhou, the hometown of the owners, which took place on May 17, 2024.

A meeting in the gardens under the sign of the 5 senses

The Rendez-vous aux jardins will take place from Friday May 31 to Sunday June 2, 2024. This year, the theme is as follows: the 5 senses in the garden. In the case of the Yili garden, all the senses are largely awakened.

  • No need to linger on the view. The architecture of the garden is worked with detail. You will also come across several animals: birds, frogs and even rabbits.
  • Your sense of smell will also be awakened, particularly in the peony garden. You will be surrounded by the smells of nature, water and flowers.
  • Your hearing will be stimulated throughout your visit with the singing of birds and then that of frogs. You will also use your ears under the bandstand.
  • Your touch will be useful at the calligraphy kiosk as well as on the music kiosk. You will also be invited to touch the plants, the bamboos and the peonies.
  • Your taste will be titillated during the different tastings (tea, cakes or even traditional Chinese dishes).
Yili Garden in Saint-Rémy-l’Honoré
The Yili Garden in Saint-Rémy-l’Honoré (Yvelines) will organize an exceptional visit with the architect on the occasion of the Rendez-vous aux jardins. ©Julie Eslan

“The French always talk about Japanese gardens, but generally they don’t know about Chinese gardens. I want to introduce them to them.”

Qiaofang Shi

The garden architect will then do an exceptional guided tour in which he will explain his choices and his inspirations. The visit of approximately 2 hours costs €7.

Numerous festivities in Yvelines on the occasion of the Rendez-vous aux jardins

In addition to the Yili garden, many other events are taking place in Yvelines during the Rendez-vous aux jardins 2024. Here is our selection.
– The perfumer’s garden at Versailles: located in the heart of the Trianon gardens, the Château de Versailles offers a dive into the history of perfume at court through a few hundred plant essences.
– Sonja’s garden in Perray-en-Yvelines: In Sonja Gauron’s garden, you will find many rare species of pantes (snow tree, Japanese maple, etc.).
– The Marly estate park: guided tour and creation of herbaria for children, this is the weekend program at the Marly park.
– The national domain of Saint-Germain-en-Laye: The domain pulls out all the stops all weekend. Meetings with gardeners, visits, workshops… visitors should not be bored.

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