The gardens of the Société
des Bains de Mer are very closely linked to the development of a particular
part of the Principality of Monaco: Monte-Carlo. The area took off in around
1893 when the Casino was established on Spélugues rock, which was previously
parched and bare.
Designed by the renowned
architect Edouard André, the main features of the “French-style” gardens are
combined with landscaped valleys, waterfalls, streams and ponds, imbued with a
highly distinctive exotic flavour.
Edouard André drew inspiration from fashionable theories about the
French Riviera. The region was classed as a very hot area, where one could only
live during winter. From December to March, local gardens were supposed to give
the impression of blazing, tropical fauna, an eternal spring.
Opposite the Casino, stretching down a gentle slope, the Boulingrins (the word comes from
“bowling greens”) are sunken and bordered by Washingtonia robusta and Brachychiton
populneus, punctuated evenly by flowerbeds.
There are landscaped
sections on each side of this garden. Edouard André made use of the natural
slope here to create a stream with small waterfalls which terminates at its
lowest point in a large pond.
Many of the details of
the overall layout have been changed since it was created, but overall the
garden has retained the exotic feel that Edouard André gave it by planting
subtropical species. This section of the gardens is also known as “Little Africa”.
The space which,
previously, had more of a decorative function, has now been redesigned to
enable visitors to reach the centre of the garden by taking a walk past the ponds
and heading down the terraces towards the Casino.