Thabor park, Rennes!

Ok so now lets get ecological nature lover in me and tell you about a wonderful park right in the middle of a large city. This is Rennes, dept 35 of Ille et Vilaine in the region of Brittany ! Having taking on monuments and museums, let me tell you about a nature lovers paradise.

I have several posts on Rennes but would like to tell you about the wonderful Thabor park or Parc du Thabor of Rennes!

Parc du Thabor park, is close to the city center, a public park with more than ten hectares, the characteristic of which is to mix a French garden, an English garden and an important botanical garden. Since its private origin, vegetable garden and pleasure of the monks of Saint-Melaine Abbey long outside the walls of the city, the park has become, by successive developments and enlargements, one of the emblematic places of the city and of the most popular.

Thabor Park is in the district of Thabor-Saint-Helier-Alphonse Guérin. It is framed by rue Martenot and Rue de Paris to the south, the boulevard de la Duchess Anne to the east and the Rue de la Palestine to the north. The west of the park is clearly tightened between Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine in the north and middle school Anne de Bretagne in the south; You can access it by the place Saint-Melaine, the entrance closest to the center of the city. Access to the park is made by six open entrances on the above mentioned streets. It is served by lines C3 and 44, Thabor stop; The nearest metro station is Sainte-Anne. The park is open all year round. Just to say I always come here by car as on trains is only a transfer station for me.

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A bit of history and description I like

Originally, the park was only a hill culminating at 56 meters above sea level, i.e. it dominated a large part of Rennes, the altitude of which ranges from 20 to 74 meters. The first mentions of the Thabor date from 1610. The lands of Thabor have long been a dependency of the abbey of Saint-Melaine, where they were mainly used as an orchard. In the 17C, Benedictine monks opened their gardens, but they were reserved for men only. The Thabor was accessed by a passage that communicated between the abbey’s interior cloister and its vegetable garden, and then through a door that was set in the wake of the Great Fire of 1720, the Thabor became the seat of the bishopric. The Palace of the bishopric was built there and part of the gardens became those of the bishopric.

In the French revolution, all ecclesiastical domains are attached to the State. On May 10, 1793, Rennes became the owner of these lands following an exchange with the State. A public promenade was opened on the rest of the bishopric and Benedictine lands; the Court of the bishopric is the main entrance. In 1826, the demolition of the Church of Saint John, located next to Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine, abandoned since the French revolution, opened the current entrance to Saint-Melaine.

Besides the French gardens expressly requested by the mayor, Denis Bühler proposed to create the first landscaped garden of Rennes and to move the garden of plants, then to the west of the Orangerie, to the east of the park. The greenhouses, the aviary, the grates, the Orangerie and the bandstand are made on the plans of the local architect Jean-Baptiste Martenot. The last expansions took place at the end of the 19C with the transfer of the Office of the Catherinettes in 1891, then the acquisition of the parcel Perrigault. During the 20C, some minor developments were carried out, such as the addition of wrought iron gratings at the entrance to Rue de Paris, in 1912 and Avenue de Grignan in 1926, but also the creation of a menagerie in 1930 following the success of the park of Maurepas created essentially as a playground and relaxation in 1936, the Thabor park, also receives this type of equipment. The Duchess Anne’s greenhouses were demolished at the beginning of 2005 to liberate the settlement area of the social housing, as well as a neighborhood library and a new entrance towards the square Lucien Rose.

The 10 ha of the Thabor public Garden consists of two walks-the square of the Guesclin and the L’Enfer (hell) to the west-of the French garden in front of the Orangery in the north, a large landscaped garden in the center and the south, and finally a botanical garden and a rosary to the east. The Guesclin square was laid out in bowling lawn in 1825, it is a trapezoidal lawn with a promenade lined with chestnut trees. On the small side, a stone arch highlighting a column of July allows to overlook the bowling, of this observatory, the impression that the Guesclin square is of parallelepiped form.. The demolition of the Church of Saint John allowed to create an entrance leading directly to the Guesclin square in 1826 overlooking the Place Saint Melaine, ancient forecourt of the abbey, the entrance is marked by a monumental portal, bearing the arms of Rennes. A small wall was spread on either side of the pillars, punctuated by six low-protrusion pilasters adorned with cast iron vases. The construction of the new grid, is a miniature version of that of Parc Monceau, Paris began in 1873 and ended only 3 years later.

The terraces, along Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Melaine, are lined with mosaics of flowers. From 1950, these mosaics were thematic and could represent comic characters (Asterix, Smurfs…) or the Fables of Fontaine. This demanded substantial financial support for the city of Rennes, and since 1975, the flower beds have been a simpler motif. During the early 20C, L’Enfer (hell) was a holiday place with the installation of a green theater. In front of L’Enfer, a very treed square houses a children’s carousel. An overhanging promenade is located on the edge of the Espachien. It includes a foosball table, a stones table and two sculptures made between 1889 and 1895 by the students of the Beaux-Arts of Rennes who face on the east side of the promenade.

Between L’Enfer and the French gardens, a bar-restaurant is located along the Rue de la Palestine. The Thabor’s snack bar becomes the Terrace Restaurant.

The French gardens were designed by Denis Bühler at the explicit request of the mayor of the city. This is the only French garden created by this landscaper, and the only 19C park to own a French garden. The French garden respects the precepts of Le Nôtre: we find gendarme hats, embroidery beds and basins. In addition to the Floral Park, the French garden also stands out by its decoration and its development by factories, statues and by the urban furniture. The bandstand, strategically placed in the alignment of the massif of the French garden, on its eastern part, is built by Martenot in 1875. He took trips before designing the kiosk, including advice on acoustics, and was very much inspired by the Bois de Boulogne kiosk. The statues were added at the end of the 19C. In 1807, the Orangerie and two greenhouses were built, but the latter were replaced almost sixty years later (in 1862 and 1863) by the greenhouses designed by Martenot. The glass and steel greenhouses are largely inspired by the greenhouses of the Bordeaux Botanical Garden. Three cut-out pavilions called palmerium, surmounted by a balcony and a dome crowned with a lantern are connected by small galleries.

The greenhouses of Martenot are affected by the bombardment of WWII; more classic integrated into the buildings of the Orangerie were built after the war. The Orangerie consists of two buildings that frame the greenhouses in the east and west. The Orangerie, pierced by windows on all sides except in the north, is decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions commemorating the great names of botany and horticulture: The pediment is adorned with names of botanists such as Linné and De Jussieu are represented on the western part and the Quintinie and Le Nôtre on the eastern part. Today, the 85 m2 of the west Orangery serves as a showroom.

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The Botanical Garden which was located west of the Orangerie and moved to the east of the park. The botanical Garden is organized circularly in eleven flowerbeds where more than 3 000 species grow to understand this organization, the visitor should browse the botanical garden starting from the acotylédones (mushrooms, mosses and ferns) , then going up to the center of the circle by turning clockwise until the flowering. So the plants become more and more imposing, and we pass herbs to shrubs. Between the Rosary, the botanical gardens and the French garden, a space of 300 m2 is isolated from the public by means of grills. It is the site of   experimentation of the Ecorurb research program, the objective of which is to understand the effects of urbanization on biodiversity. The grid plot must primarily be used to understand the process of recolonization of plants on pristine terrain with or without seed input. For this, the land was sterilized and then isolated from the rest of the park.

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The Rosary garden is rich in many varieties of rose stem, half-stalk, climbing or bush. A large part of the climbing roses are presented on the north wall separating the garden from the Rue de la Palestine, but also on arbours and pergolas. In the square of the novelties, an exhibition of roses that has been created during the previous ten years is located around the statue La Pensée( thought), a copy of the Louvre or Versailles. The side of the wall bordering the Rue de la Palestine is a place of observation where the adaptation of the roses created less than five years ago to the climatic and soil conditions is tested for two to three years by the National Society of Horticulture of France in order to compete in the Grand Prix de la Rose SNHF. A square of the old Roses inaugurated in 1990 to the south of the botanical garden allows to discover the first varieties of tea roses and their hybrids of the Japanese steps allowing to access the young Savoyard mourning his groundhog, but also to enter the heart of the ancient Rosary. To the northeast of the Botanical Garden is an exhibition of dahlias.

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The landscaped garden is summarily divided into two areas: first of all the garden imagined by Denis Bühler, offering larger spaces grassy and creating openings allowing the creation of picturesque landscapes. However, the landscape garden remains the place of the idealization of nature. The landscaped garden is home to many species of trees, including redwoods that are in some way the signature of the Bühler brothers. The most elaborate part of the landscape park is the mosaiculture representing the coat of arms of Rennes surrounded by two ermines. This is the only part of the park enclosure that is wide open outside, thanks to a long grid, so that passersby and motorists browsing the Rue de Paris can enjoy it. The monumental fountain of 1829 for the development of the Square de la Motte is dismantled and installed at the entrance of Rue de Paris in 1901. The waterfall is lined with rocks from the forest of Saint-Aubin, although during the construction of the Catherinettes, picturesque-shaped rocks were made using cement. The waterfall is a miniature copy of that of the Bois de Boulogne.

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The menagerie was arranged in 1930 to the southeast of the Catherinettes. It originally housed deer, sheep and some birds such as ducks and guinea geese, but several complaints from the vicinity, vandalism and also inadequate food for the species present led to the transformation of the Menagerie in simple duck pens in 1978. In 1968, the children’s playground is located in the southeast of the landscape park. It currently contains several slides and swings highlighted by large circular stone surrounds. A lawn adjacent to the playground is allowed to the public. Many captive birds are found at the Thabor park. Many species of surface duck and parakeets are exposed to the public in the duck enclosure and aviary. Wooden panels representing each bird installed in the vicinity of these facilities make it possible to inform the public of the different species presented. The park allows to observe several wild birds, passers and raptors mainly (Owl Tawny, European hawk). The red squirrel is also present.

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The park consists of 52 000 m2 of turf, 5 800 m2 of shrubs and 700 trees of which 200 conifers. The park, and in particular the landscaped park, is embellished with many species of trees: redwoods, Lebanese cedar, tricolor beech, Tulip tree of Virginia, Cork Oak, magnolias, silver bell trees, pyramidal oak, Algerian fir, Colorado blue fir, Etc. The Thabor Park represents 59 000 annual plants, 54 000 biennial plants, 18 500 plants bulbous, 500 chrysanthemum, 1 000 dahlias of 78 different varieties and 2 100 roses of 980 different varieties. The Botanical Garden Houses 3 120 different plants, of which 800 are planted each year; The most represented family is that of daisies. It is also a place of exhibition, especially thanks to the orangery where different artists were exposed.

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Ok so I believe you get the picture , this is a big Thabor park and a wonderful place to do your walks and or relax after a long day of sightseeing in Rennes, capital of the region of Brittany! Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Region of Brittany on heritage and Thabor park

Tourist office of Rennes on Thabor park

Dept 35 Ille et Vilaine on Thabor park

City of Rennes on Thabor park and its 150 anniversary

The Thabor Restaurant on Thabor Park

Enjoy it ,its wonderful with the whole family, we even go there while walking around the city, lately to eat out. Its an off the beaten path site that needs to be visited more.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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