The water lilies and lotuses at Latour-Marliac

About an hour’s drive from Le Mas & Le Mazet are the water lilies and lotuses at Latour-Marliac, a stunning 19th century garden which is now the French national centre for these flowers.

Latour-Marliac was founded in 1875 when M. Latour Marliac created fantastic hybrid coloured water lilies never seen before in Europe. The only hardy water lilies in Europe were white, and he managed to cross them with a tropical water lily – how he did it is still a mystery.

The resulting hybrid, named Laydekeri Floribunda, soon went extinct, but not before he was able to cross it with species and subspecies he obtained from North America and elsewhere. Latour-Marliac was ultimately able to build a collection of water lilies with a colour palette that ranged from delicate yellow to fuscia and deep red.

They were so modern that he exhibited them at the Paris Exhibition in 1889 alongside the new Eiffel Tower. They astonished the visitors to the Exhibition, including a certain M. Claude Monet.

Soon after being captivated by these water lilies, Monet bought the property in Giverny, which he had been renting, and began to build his jardin d’eau, or water garden.

Monet ordered a quantity of water lilies from Latour-Marliac, and it was these lilies that became the subject of the famous paintings, Les Nymphéas, now on display at the Orangerie Museum in Paris.

If you enjoy gardens and want to be captivated like Monet was, then we thoroughly recommend a visit to Latour-Marliac. There is a little café there for drinks and ice-creams, and it’s fun to walk around the different basins (or water-flower-beds!) and the lake.