Small, peaceful, experimental and anchored in a fabulous location Les jardins d’Etretat is a garden / open-air museum that is definitely a very interesting and original thing to do when you’re visiting Etretat, one of the loveliest towns of Haute Normandie.
The tickets are perhaps a little bit overpriced, 12,50€, considering that the full fare at the Pompidou Centre is 14€, but they have some reduce fees (kids, disable people, 3rd age, not journalists). Ultimately I payed for it and really enjoyed the visit, but I think that for a family of four it can be a bit much.
Here’s how the gardens came about: “The renowned La Belle Époque actress Madame Thébault, inspired and guided by the impressionist Claude Monet and his passion for gardening, decided to create a garden, planting the first tree in 1903. A local landscape gardener named Auguste Lecanu helped Madame Thébault to make her dream garden a reality. However, it is to Monet that the garden owes its ambient qualities, which have been carefully preserved until the present day”.
Inside you can find seven different gardens that aim to inspire different emotions, all adorned with sculptures, installations, sounds… The central piece (or the most photogenic one) is Les goutes de pluie (The raindrops) by the Spanish sculptor Samuel Salcedo in the Jardin Émotions. This pieces, made of polyester and aluminium, capture unexpected and usually unattended emotions, from waiting for a kiss to fatigue, satisfaction or pleasure.
I also loved Thomas Rösler‘s beautifully wood carved pieces: Un bateau and Un table et deux bancs, and the installation made by the Russian artist Serguey Katran called Tant que vivra le verbe.
The current exhibition is called «Double Jeu». Ten participants are displaying large-sized sculpted works and other five participants displaying medium-sized to small sculptures, they were chosen via an open contest. Double Jeu will be on until the 2nd of November. These pieces want to raise awareness about the environment and revise our relationship with nature and the planet.