Tucked away at the bottom of a hill in Normandy, France, les Jardins du Chateau de Brécy were created in the second half of the 17th century and stand as one of the rare gardens of this period still existing in France. It was once thought that Mansart had designed the gardens, but the true identity of its real designer remains a mystery. Barbara and Didier Wirth bought the property in 1993 and gradually restored the house and its gardens.
The grounds are composed of four terraces which become gradually wider in order to correct the perspective. These lead to a detailed iron gate that appears to open onto the sky: a nod to Heaven. Whilst the gardens seem to have been created in a French classic style thanks to the perfect symmetry around the wide central path, it also has a few touches of the Italian style, what with the terraces and many sculptures dotted around. This combination inspired the novelist Jacques de Lacratelle to liken Brécy to 'Italian princess finery thrown onto the shoulders of a small peasant from Normandy'. The strong sense of structure is emphasised by the planting, which is composed of various clipped topiary, a hornbeam cloister and box parterre. These provide plenty of interest even in winter.