Designed by the landscape gardener Gilles Clément, the new gardens structure the space by favoring a new perspective of the abbey from the entrance at the south of the monument; they create a link between the disorder of the bocage countryside and the sternness of the Cistercian buildings.

As soon as you arrive on site, the enclosure of the Judean trees, the alleys of grasses, the basin and the room of changing roses invite contemplation and underline the purity of the architectural lines of the monument.

In the cloister, around the flowery well, the sky is reflected in form of clouds of simple and aromatic. Further on, the oriental gardens in light white tones lead up to the magnificent avenue of bicentennial lime trees.

Undertaking new projects in a site like Noirlac Abbey requires knowledge of its history, the spatial and domestic economy of a community of monks, the landscape and its structure, the relief, the river, the links with the city and the rationale behind the site’s layout. It also means finding yourself confronted with the power of art at the service of “living and thinking” in a constant call to spirituality. The impact of the architecture, the ratio of light to shade, the simplicity of the transitional spaces, the generous proportions of the enclosures, the positioning of this whole structure within the site, together create a harmonious balance, with the central object, the magnificent white stonework of the abbey, blending smoothly with its surroundings.

Noirlac is an ensemble, from the top of the hill down to the banks of the Cher. In these conditions, it is a real challenge to try to create a garden.
Everything is already in place, so that a garden can only be a modest addition, an appendix. The selected project strives to respect these given elements, at times invoking the vanished memory of a former land use.
The new access from the car park to the bailey courtyard represents a significant functional and spatial change, contributing to the creation of a line-of-sight between the hill and the bocage farmland. This perspective crosses the Bruère-Virlay path, destined for walks.

Inside the abbey enclosure, the Forecourt and the Garden of Changing Roses are installations intended both to link different areas and to create pleasing spaces where visitors might wish to stop and rest. Finally, in the heart of the abbey, the Cloister Garden renews the ancestral and ongoing tradition of growing medicinal and culinary plants. The arrangement of the plants within an enclosed space, with plans for exuberant border species alongside predominantly blue vegetation and flowers, is intended to evoke a little corner of sky.

Gilles Clément