The Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh - Menton, which is made up of multiple terraced plots of land, covers just over 1 hectare. The plants are spread out around an Italian-Provencal-style villa with ochre walls, renovated in the 1920s.
While the richness of the garden’s vegetation is its main asset, its layout is also worthy of interest: beyond the formal layout of the terrace in front of the villa, the rest of the garden is laid out in less rigid fashion, with the pathways hugging the undulating topography of the terrain. The open spaces - around the house or at the level of the water garden - alternate with more intimate spaces, such as the bamboo collection or the tropical forest-dedicated area.
In addition to this landscape architecture, the garden is organised into small themed and « biogeographical » areas (representing the climatically and ecologically homogeneous geographical zones from the point of view of plant formations and temperatures) according to exposure or drainage of the soil. There is a series of sections:
- plants from humid tropical regions;
- plants from dry tropical regions;
- plants from Mediterranean regions;
- medicinal and cultural plants, magic and toxic;
- tropical fruit trees;
- the citrus orchard.
These are complemented by a small collection of aromatics and surrounded by large beds of ornamental plants, especially around the pond and the terrace.
The acclimatisation of such diverse species is possible thanks to Menton’s extraordinary geographical position.
Garavan Bay, where the garden is located, is an amphitheatre shape which is open to the sea and is sheltered by the mountain. This creates a mild and humid microclimate. The term “Garavan” denotes the rockiness that protects the bay and has sheltered people for thousands of years. There are around 316 days of sunshine a year.
The average annual temperature is 16°C but, as is the case everywhere, it has been getting warmer: it now tends to be closer to 17°C. However, it never goes higher than 36°C. Rainfall frequency varies from one year to the next: There was 435 mm in 2001, and 1,457 mm in 2014. An average of approximately 850 mm of rainfall per year is recorded.
Atmospheric humidity is between 70% and 88%, which is vital for the many subtropical and tropical species. At its lowest point, when the wind is strong, atmospheric humidity drops to 58%, but never less than that. Hence all the wonderfully lush vegetation.