ISSUE 75  |  Travels with an Editor: Paris

Garden Visit: A Seaside Landscape in Northern France

June 05, 2013 10:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

In a small town in Brittany, on the northern coast of France about five hours’ drive from Paris, the landscape design firm Cao-Perrot Studio designed a 4,500-square-foot garden of undulating perennial grasses and flowers whose waves are a constant reminder of the nearby sea.

Cao-Perrot designers Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot are known for creating dreamy, romantic landscapes that elicit an emotional response. They won the Grand Prize in 2009 at the  annual Jardins, Jardin garden show in Paris, for an intallation that featured a metal tree on which “grew” 20,000 mother-of-pearl leaves. 

Photographs via Cao Perrot Studio.

Above: “This garden was inspired by its ever-changing surrounding landscapes and seascapes in Brittany,” the designers say. Using a restrained palette, the designers relied on perennial grasses, lavender, and a few old-fashioned kinds of flowers to create a soft, blurred effect. No matter how close you are standing, the horizon feels distant.

Above: Lavender and grasses edge the front walk.

Above: Perennial grasses create a frothy effect that other plants can’t replicate.


Above: With the aid of a bulldozer, Cao-Perrot created “sculpted landforms” to catch the light at different times of day.

Above: Pink poppies look completely at home in the grasses.

Above: The designers achieved a painterly effect with textures and colors that play off each other in the late afternoon light.

Above: Hollyhocks punctuate the garden with a rare burst of red.

Above: Rows of lavender, grasses, hedge and in back–those hollyhocks.

For another of our favorite romantic French gardens, see A Restored Medieval Garden.