Monaco's Exotic Garden
Opened in 1933, the garden has become a must see on the Riviera. Species from all over the world (South Africa, Asia and America) grow there. Soon, it was pioneering in the biodiversity of succulents and cactus and today the collections are regularly enriched to the visitors’ greatest pleasure.
The geography of the site is unique. Built directly on the rocks, it is steep, magnificent and the spectacular view over the principality fills you with wonder. The beautiful garden hinges on three lines: the garden, the cave and the botanic centre.
The area is about a hectare on an arid and sheer environment. No sooner said than done, you will find yourself in an extraordinary garden and all your senses will be on the watch. There are so many things to see, to smell and to admire: flowers, phenomenal and strange plants or just dazzling ones. The works started in 1913 and it took Louis Notary 20 years to design the site, select and collect the plants and to set up the ground.
The cave is dug naturally by water that has been streaming on limestone for several thousand years. It will surprise the young and the older with its large range of stalactites and stalagmites, of columns and draperies. The cave was opened to the public about 1950. Located at the foot of the cliff, it is between 40 and 100 metres above sea level. Reputedly, it used to be inhabited by men.
The botanic centre proudly stands a few steps away from the gardens in a huge and modern greenhouse. It is sole home to treasures of large varieties of cactus and succulents. At the start, the botanic centre was close to the gardens. In 2017 it moved to the new glasshouses at the cutting edge of technology where nearly 20 000 plants are coddled. This sophisticated tool is used to protect the biodiversity of plants that are in danger in nature and so, to prevent their extinction in their natural environment. A pure technical tool, the centre used to be utilized by the garden staff only. Fortunately, it has been opened to the public since last September.
As you can well imagine, a visit to Monaco’s exotic garden is not only a walk in a splendid park. To the initiated person as well as the mere rambler, it also means campaigning for environmental conservation. Taking care of the Exotic Garden is protecting nature, its diversity, its preciousness and above all, its beauty.