JARDINS SECRETS

Secret garden idyll in the heart of old Nîmes

PRESS THE BUZZER, step through the door and hey presto, you’re in another world. No wonder Jardins Secrets got its name – you’d never know this peaceful enclave in the midst of Nîmes was there. Yet this 300-year-old family house set in fabulous gardens hidden behind the city streets is an out-and-out winner.

Shaded by palms and a froth of bougainvillea, the lush gardens of Jardins Secrets are the star of the show. Orange and lemon trees, lofty bamboo, urns laden with flowers and giant birdcages a-flutter with song underline that other-worldly feel. Olive trees shade the stone salt-water pool, while wooden sun loungers invite slothful afternoons in the shade.

Talented owners Christophe and Annabelle Valentin turned their atmospheric family home into a boutique residence a few years ago, creating a place of immense style.Ten further rooms have been added to this sought-after hideaway in southern Provence this year.



Hit the Spot
Five minutes from both the TGV station and the Roman arena at Nîmes.

Bedtime
If we had to choose, Suite d'Edith is the most fetching.

Be savvy
You’ll hear the odd train rumbling into nearby Nîmes station.

Be smitten
Nîmes’ best-kept secret.


Boudoir bathrooms

Bedrooms at Jardins Secrets are serious tempters. Huge, high ceilinged rooms come with silken drapes, regal shades, polished wooden floors, striking prints, old-new furniture and shuttered doors or windows opening onto the garden. One has huge murals on the walls, a lavishly draped coronet bed and a period armoire.

Wide beds come wrapped in Toile de Jouy linens, while boudoir bathrooms sport chandeliers, clawfoot baths standing elegantly on Montelimar marble floors, gilded mirrors and antique candlesticks. Fluffy robes and jars of bathtime goodies come as standard.

Strewn with old photographs, 18th century oil paintings and objets d’art, the three inter-connecting lounges are just as special. You’ll see marble fireplaces, a sweeping staircase, baby grand piano, eclectic art and a help-yourself honesty bar.

The gardens are the jewel here, and we wouldn’t blame you for idling away your entire stay in these lush and lovely surrounds. Softly lit by lanterns at night, they are also the place for summertime breakfasts – beautifully served on fine china with home-made preserves (look out for the jasmine jam) and delicious fresh pastries.

Roman Nîmes is minutes away, so make time to see the famous arena and other ancient relics. There are plenty of places to eat out at night, and you’ll return to find Jardins Secrets’ much-feted chocolate cake awaiting in your room for late-night nibbles.

Faultless attention to detail makes the place glow. Nothing’s-too-much-trouble service and a friendly, un-stuffy atmosphere are the icing on the cake.


Jardins Secrets was reviewed for Room for Romance by Raz Murray
Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.











Dining in
Only breakfast is served, but it's worth getting up for. And you'll find some delicious chocolate cake in your room to stave off the munchies.

Dining out
The aptly named Le Darling restaurant, in the heart of old Nîmes, should be just the place for a romantic tête-à-tête over dinner. Also close to the old Roman arena and only five minutes away is the elegant Le Lisita, serving excellent local cuisine.



Where?

Jardins Secrets

What’s cooking?
Exceptional breakfasts, with flaky-fresh croissants and homemade jams. That's not to mention the  sinful chocolate cake left for pillowside nibbling later.

Dress the part

Careless French chic

Top table?
Out on the terrace
See & Do
Nîmes is packed with history, and the famous Roman amphitheatre – just five minutes away – should be top of your list. Around Nîmes are some truly spectacular spots including the famous Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard, with its sweeping panoramic views. The old hilltop town of Les Beaux de Provence is also within easy reach and full of sun-filled medieval walls and ancient winding alleys, perfect for getting lost in.

Shop
Nîmes is famous for its pastry shops, so stock up on locally made almondy caladons at Patisserie Villaret in Rue de la Madeleine. This pedestrianised street is packed with good shops, though for something strictly local to take home pop into Boutique Provençale in the Place de la Maison Carrée. There's even a shop in town dedicated to bullfighting – El Duendecillo.
 
Spa
There’s a spa, a hammam and a newly installed heated pool to ensure your troubles float away.

After dark
See the amphitheatre by moonlight and have dinner at one of the many small city bistros that are tiny on table space, big on atmosphere.

Dates
May and September
Soak up plenty of local colour at the Feria de Nîmes, staged at the amphitheatre.
GETTING THERE

Location
Rue Gaston Maruejols, 30000 Nîmes

Parking
Garaged parking is available for EUR 20 a day

Trains
Nîmes mainline station – 200m

Taxis
Around EUR 15 from Nîmes airport

Airport
Nîmes – 10km; or Marseille – 100km.



Rooms and suites

Six rooms, seven suites

Special features
Gorgeous rooms, all very individually styled, come with wi-fi and Frette linens.

Also…
That beautiful walled garden will make you feel you've truly escaped.

ESSENTIAL INFO


Rates guide
EUR 195 - 350

Open/closed
Open all year

Check-in

2pm

Check-out
12 noon

Minimum night stay?

Two nights

Breakfast
Breakfast (EUR 20) is served until 10.30am

Room service
Available morning and evening

Children
On request

Pets
On request

Air conditioning
Yes

Languages
French, English, Spanish, Japanese, Thai, Portuguese.

Wedding license?
Yes – with accommodation available for up to 30 guests

Your contact
Annabelle Valentin – owner



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