Very early on, I was immersed in plants with my grandmother, a horticulturist in Dinard, Brittany: I spent my holidays with her in the greenhouses. For the little girl that I was, there was no place more extraordinary. It was life in all its splendor, the multiplication of the living, without limits. I was fascinated – I still am – by the cutting: with one plant, you can get fifty, a hundred more.
Nature is infinitely generous, as long as we protect it. This is without a doubt the most beautiful life lesson I have received. For me, the smell of hot and humid earth is a matrix scent, which gives me well-being. From this childhood in the middle of the vegetation was born my love for gardens, plants, flowers. For a long time, it was a somewhat secret passion, because I was officially involved in literature and culture. Which did not prevent me from visiting the most beautiful and large gardens in the world.
I worked for twenty years abroad, as director of the French Institute in Essen, artistic attaché in Bonn, then cultural adviser to the French embassies in Bucharest, Rome and Berlin. I also directed the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud and the international affairs of the Ministry of Culture. I had already visited the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire and its garden festival, which has been taking place since 1992.
This amazed me because it was a mecca for plants, but also a place of extraordinary inventiveness. When the founder of the festival, a friend, died in 2005, I was deeply saddened and tried to find out what would happen to the premises. The idea of the region was to mix contemporary art and garden arts: culture and nature. It spoke to me. I applied for the job, and I was accepted.
The Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, where I now live and work, has allowed me to reconnect with everything that is close to my heart: nature, heritage, the arts, international cultures. Each year, thirty new gardens are created. Some from the competition, made by anonymous people, others created by invited personalities from all over the world – landscape architects, designers, scenographers…
On a given theme, the set-up begins on February 15 and must be completed by April 15. This year, to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary, we launched the theme of the “ideal garden”, which generated a wide variety of responses, from the aesthetic garden to the therapeutic garden, including the nurturing garden.
I am a gourmet, passionate as much about nature as about gastronomy. I love going to restaurants, but I rarely find time to cook. Except that here I have the local chickens and the fresh herbs: there is nothing left to do but make an omelet, one of the only dishes I prepare. It reminds me of my grandmother who sent me to get the herbs in the garden. The omelet should be generous, soft inside, golden outside. The herbs are added before it is folded and slid onto the plates. It sounds simple, but it’s quite an art.