The Herboretum has chosen Cinqfoils (Potentilla reptans) as its emblem, to place itself under its protection. Cinqfoils are beautiful plants of the Rosacea family, with leaves made up of 5 oval folioles and pink flowers. They grow readily in the meadows of The Herboretum. When it rains, the plant gathers its leaves in the form of a cup above the flowers, to protect itself from the weather. This officinal plant has therapeutic qualities which have been known since ancient times. It is believed to provide well-being to the soul and heart, and to open the way to success when worn on one’s clothing.
The Herboretum is organised around the banks of the river Mauves, a river coming out of Beauce and flowing into the Loire.
The river Mauves
The diversity of the landscapes, associated to the undulations, offers unexpected view points and creates contrasted atmospheres from majestuous to intimate. Right away, this large garden of life or paradise (an enclosed garden is said ‘paradaïza’ in old Persian) favours dreams and makes the walk quiet and blissful.
The Herboretum is located in the heart of the Val de Loire, ranked by UNESCO World’s Heritage, and in the Center Region, which is rich in agricultural and floral traditions, medicinal plants, horticulture and arboriculture.
Lastly, close to the domain, a 263 ha surface has been delimited to constitute a National Natural Reserve (decree of 14/12/2006).
The mansion is an elegant building erected on the site of a cistercian abbey. The original building, built at the beginning of the 13th century, didn’t resist fires. The center of to day’s mansion corresponds to the former abbey housing. Both wings, the circular one to the West, the winter garden and its turret in the opposite angle have been added during the 19th century in the characteristic neoclassical architectural style.Restored by its successive owners, it offers to day a succession of warm rooms.
The winter garden
François Rabelais (1494–1553), medical doctor, apothecary of the Renaissance and writer, loved to take refuge at his friend’s, the Lord of St Ay, who lived in the castle close to the Cistercian abbey.
During his stays, he particularly liked to sit on a stone bench, next to a fountain located under the castle. In this privileged place, he wrote a great part of his major work ‘Pantagruel’.
Rabelais describes a new educational system which provides an encyclopaedic knowledge: it is the variety which stimulates the appetite to know more.
He criticizes the teaching based on books only and allows a great deal to practical and experimental learning. His pedagogical methods are based on learning with joy: one learns well only when one is entertained.
Nearly 500 years after Rabelais passing away, his famous maxim: ‘Science without conscience is only ruin of the soul’ is still alive and animates the Herboretum spirit.
A collective visit
The number 5 which results of the ‘5 fingers’ of the Cinquefoil is the ‘code’ of The Herboretum.
This number will allow you to discover the magic of the place, reveal its riches, unveil the secrets of Nature and tell you ‘once upon 5 times, there is biodiversity... ‘
This story, the visitor will live it by the solicitation of his 5 senses, while strolling over the domain through its 5 ecologic gardens, its 5 thematic gardens, its 5 faunistic observatories and by following the 5 harmonic alleys and crossing the 5 lyrical bridges to assist to a great opera of biodiversity.