Latour-Marliac, my water lily supplier in Temple-sur-Lot

In and around Bordeaux, I treat myself to a number of beautiful walks that simultaneously combine pure pleasure and the utilitarian. My strolls in Temple-sur-Lot are part of this. I always return thrilled, and equipped with a small packet of water lilies or other curiosities.

When we bought our house, which was around twenty years ago now, we discovered a desperately empty small pond in the garden. For the pond to stay that way was out of the question. I added a few goldfish and, in order to provide them with a nicer living environment, it felt necessary that I grow a few water lilies in the pond. This was great seeing that in Aquitaine we have a specialist in these aquatic plants, Latour-Marliac, based in Temple-sur-Lot, in the Lot-et-Garonne.

This historic nursery was established in 1850 by Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac, a native of Lot-et-Garonne, with a view to growing the bamboo that is still present on the holding, forming nice tall and thick hedges at the entrance to the property. However, what made the nursery famous was its ability to produce water lilies of all colours, by means of the hybridisation of the white European water lily with wild water lilies in various colours. This was a genuine revolution at the time, that resulted in a resounding success at the Exposition universelle de Paris world fair in 1889. It was there that painter Claude Monet discovered them. He then placed several orders for water lilies for his water garden in Giverny and drew inspiration for his famous 200 m² tableau, Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies), which I admired at the musée de l’Orangerie (Orangery Museum) in Paris.

In the gardens of Latour-Marliac, I like to stroll among the 80 fish pools in which more than 200 varieties of water lily and shimmering lotuses flourish. Upon closer inspection, I entertain myself by looking for the tiny frogs that populate these pools, along with a multitude of small fish. I pass by the little museum before venturing into the park with its pond, which is, of course, home to a host of floating water lilies. I then go to admire the enormous multicoloured Koi carp in a large pond dedicated exclusively to them.

If I have the time I grab some lunch on the terrace of the restaurant Marliacea, between the pools and the pond, to sample the regional products, foie gras in lotus tea jelly, duck confit or Broc cheeses. I then set off again, admiring the commandery made from small bricks, which is located on the main thoroughfare and was founded in the 13th century by the Templars. It serves as accommodation for the interns of the Temple-sur-Lot “La Base” sports centre, and is also home to a restaurant.

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