l'Île de Versailles Jardin Japonais – Nantes, France - Atlas Obscura
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l'Île de Versailles Jardin Japonais

This small island, a byproduct of 19th-century canal construction, is now home to a charming Japanese garden. 

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On an island in the middle of the French river of Edre is a Japanese garden that looks like it was transplanted from the city of Kyoto

The area where the island of Versailles now stands was originally a riverine marshland inhabited mostly by fish, frogs, waterfowl, and otters. However, in 1831 the river was cleared for the construction of a canal that would connect the city of Nantes with Brest.

A byproduct of the canal construction was the creation of a small island sitting in the middle of the river that had been created by engineers using the mud that had been moved from the enlargement of the riverbank and the drainage of the marsh. For over a century, the island housed the workshops of carpenters, boat builders, mechanics, and engineers. By the post-war period of the 1940s and 50s, these industries had declined so much that the majority of the land remained unused and in a state of neglect.

In the 1980s, the city acquired the island and began a project to develop the island into a site of natural beauty to encourage local tourism and use and after several discussions decided to construct a Japanese-style garden that could be a place of recreation by locals. 

The resulting garden is an elegant space modeled on the traditional aesthetics of the Japanese gardens of the city of Kyoto being planted with bamboo, bald cypress, rhododendrons, and Japanese cherry trees. The landscaping of the garden also remains faithful to traditional Japanese design and features rockeries, a raked garden, ponds, waterfalls, a teahouse, and a walkway. The tea house in the center of the garden contains several aquariums, which house a display of over 20 fish and other aquatic animal species that are native to the Edre river. 

Know Before You Go

The Japanese garden is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day and entrance is free. 

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