Le Chateau Borély sits on the outskirt of Marseille (southern France), very close to the Prado beaches. It was built in the 18th century as the abode of a rich merchant. It now houses the Museum of Decorative Arts, Earthenware and Fashion. I first became acquainted with it in connection with checking out an exhibition entitled ‘La Mode aux Courses‘ back in 2013 (2014?). I loved the exhibition as well as the Chateau itself. It’s not large, but has a charm about it. If you get bored of the plage, why not pay the museum a visit, or take a stroll in the surrounding park? When I did I made the following brief contemplations about the landscape design @ Chateau Borély.
The garden in front of the Chateau is laid out in a style befitting the 18th century style architecture of the building and the overall estate. A typical long axis based on symmetry and formality stretches from the garden entrance up to the main building. The centre comprises a vast lawn containing interspersed flower beds and a water feature with a simple fountain. On each side of the lawn there are allées of trees providing shade and seating. In short, it’s traditional garden design for this kind of property.
At the back of the Chateau, however, the design speaks another language. Here there are (hardly) no blooms in sight, it’s all about gravel and extreme minimalism. I imagine this was the main day-to-day entrance used for both residents and workers. I can almost visualize horse carts coming and going.
I really like this part of the estate. I love the huge letters in corten steel acting as information signs. So simple yet so effective and rather original. It all feels highly modern and sleek. At the same time fitting neatly with the 18th century architecture. This mixing of old an new is seen in a few places around Marseille, particularly Fort Saint-Jean. It works equally well there.