Parc Borely is a popular tourist attraction in Marseille and is classified as one of the Notable Gardens of France by the French Ministry of Culture. These beloved gardens in Marseille feature over 40 acres of breathtaking landscape, ornate fountains, lush flora and fauna, and miles of walking paths. There are other Parc Borely attractions as well, including the replica of the Basilique du Notre Dame de la Garde, a landscape garden in the English tradition, and the adjoining Jardin botanique E.M. Heckel. Parc Borely provides a pleasant and quiet retreat for residents and visitors of this city, and second largest metropolitan area in the entirety of France. During the peak season travel months, it is not uncommon for the city streets, hotels, and cafes to become a little on the congested side, so it is nice to know that you can escape to the serenity and peacefulness of a place such as this in the center of town.
These gardens in Marseille have been around in one form or another since the seventeenth century, when a French ship owner by the name of Joseph Borely purchased a country house on the site of the current park. After changing hands over the course of a couple centuries between private owners, the land wound up in the possession of the city of Marseille, which expanded on the gardens and began to develop the plot into the land we see today. At first, the Parc Borely consisted of three distinct parts: the English Garden, the French Garden, and a racetrack for horses built by the sea. The horseracing track is one of the Parc Borely attractions that is no longer there, but the park has been enlarged and expanded upon significantly to the point that it is now recognized as one of the preeminent parks in France. This is saying quite a lot in a country that features so many such lovely places.
The ponds and lakes, accentuated by a variety of fountains, are some of the other most popular Parc Borely attractions. The fountains and ornate landscaping designs that accentuate the eighteenth-century country house located on the grounds are perfectly tasteful and thoughtfully designed. There is also an expansive rose garden in the Parc Borely as well as a greenhouse that features a broad selection of tropical plant species. Kids will enjoy the gardens in Marseille just as much as the adults, as there are all kinds of activities and attractions to keep them busy. You can rent go-carts, operate model boats on the lakes, feed the ducks and other animals on the premises, and generally enjoy the wide open spaces and ability to play games and spend quality time with one another.
The Parc Borely certainly offers a little bit of something for people of all ages and areas of interest. The adults can enjoy a wonderful morning or afternoon of exploring two of the finest and most reputable museums in the city, and the kids can have a blast getting to know the indigenous plant and animal life in the park, as well as playing games and running around.
Image: Mildiou (flickr)