THE FANTASTIC GARDEN (Le Jardin Fantastique)
The Fantastic Garden, the first section of which, the Fantastic Maze (Le Labyrinthe Fantastique), was opened to the public for the first time in May 2005, is a major project undertaken by Michel Menin, to improve the former quarry at Saint Maur near to Lons le Saunier in the Jura.
Covering an area of 7.5 hectares (18 acres) of limestone where for more than two centuries the villagers quarried and cut the good quality, hard stone, there remained nothing but mountains of pebbles overrun with thorny bushes out of which emerge the rock faces.
These rock faces, formed by the use of manual quarrying methods (no explosives being used in the quarry), match the natural vertical fissures of the Jurasian plateau, where the rainwater has eaten away at the limestone for thousands of years leading to today’s natural formations. All that Michel Menin needed to do, after buying a digger, was to tidy them up to reveal the attractive rock circles, the steep sided gorges or the simple rock beds in all their natural glory.
Young people working for the F.E.R.A.I.S. group helped with the groundwork and with constructing the protecting walls.
The broad alleys were marked out and more than a hectare of grass was sown.
Ornamental trees and shrubs were planted and in spring 1994, 4,200 hornbeams were planted to make the maze after laying 3,000 cubic metres of earth over the rocky base.