I find the coastal area of the French Riviera groans with concrete, construction cranes, and high-rise apartments so a short visit to any area of greenery is always welcomed.
Today, because it was a lovely sunny autumn day I decided to push my son in his baby stroller to Jardin Thuret – a renown local attraction.
From central Juan les Pins (if walking), it takes approximately 20-25 minutes via the quickest and less strenuous route – walk up the gradual hill of avenue Saramartel, then turn left onto chemin du Crouton. Follow chemin du Crouton for 5 minutes then turn right onto boulevard du Cap and the garden is a leisurely 5 minutes from there on the right. Don’t be fooled by Google maps; it seems as though you can take a shortcut through avenue du Soleil Saramartel but you can’t as this is a private road for a gated residence. The garden also has numerous entry gates on chemin du Tamisier, but the only accessible public entrance that isn’t chained or locked is on chemin Raymond.
Once on boulevard du Cap you turn right onto chemin Raymond, a narrow road, and the entrance to the garden is halfway down this road. There are a few carpark spaces on this road but otherwise no parking area so bear this in mind in peak summer season. If you are traveling from central Antibes, you can also take Envibus number 2 (Eden Roc line) and it stops at ‘Chemin de la Salis’ stop near to the garden.
The garden itself is on 3.5 hectares and has over 2,500 trees and shrubs. There is the main building Villa Thuret which was closed as botanical researchers use it, also a greenhouse and a small gardien’s building with public toilet (no baby changing facility). A statue bust of Gustave Thuret (a French botanist who created the garden) casts a watchful eye from under the canopy of pine trees.
Most trees have signage with their latin names, species and place of origin. It was nice to see Mediterranean species, also trees from Chile, Australasia and south-east Asia.
We saw cyclads, pine trees, conifers, palms, eucalyptus trees, cypress trees, water lilies and there is even a small bamboo forest.
As you meander along the paths, keep alert for wildlife – birds, insects, lizards and squirrels. And mosquitoes, so bring insect repellent. The paths are made of small gravel chip so it is accessible for baby strollers/buggies though it’s suited for sturdier off-road types of buggy. There are no stairs in the garden but wheelchair visitors may struggle as there are big rocks occasionally in the path, and also the site is on a slight incline.
– Relatively quiet botanical garden with huge variety of trees and shrubs
– Easily accessible from Antibes or Juan les Pins, and suitable for a short visit of 30 minutes – 1 hour. I wouldn’t recommend it for a longer visit unless you have a particular interest in botany as there are no facilities onsite (e.g. cafeteria, playground, boutique)
– Free entry
– Stroller/buggy accessible (though it is not paved, it is doable)
– Onsite public toilet
The downsides are:
– Carparking may be difficult in summer
– Nowhere to sit! there are no park benches, only a handful of seats made from tree trunks so it lacks somewhere to rest or enjoy a snack or the view
As I find with many attractions in France, they don’t capitalise on tourism potential. This would be a lovely site for a tearooms in the Villa Thuret! or even a shaded terrace to eat an ice-cream and enjoy the green view. We enjoyed our visit to Jardin Thuret and I appreciate and understand they probably would like it to remain unspoiled, it has an almost overgrown, unkempt feel about it and perhaps that is one of it’s charms.
Villa Thuret, 90 chemin Raymond, Cap d’Antibes
Open: Monday-Friday 08:30am-5:30pm (winter), 08:30am-6pm (summer) (year-round it is closed weekends and public holidays)
Free entry (excluding large groups who must prebook and pay a nominal fee)