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Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN
Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN

The history of the Garden

The Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton (Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden) is completely in keeping with the evolution of the landscapes of Menton and the Côte d'Azur, which are adorned with decorative and botanical gardens, particularly due to the influence of the significant English community, who were real garden enthusiasts.

The estate was established in the 19th century by a family of the Menton nobility, the De Monléon family. It consists of agricultural land and a building dating from 1875.

Lord Percy Radcliffe (1874-1934), General in the British Army and former governor of Malta, acquired the property in 1905 with his wife Rahmeh Theodora Swinburne (1865-1924). After purchasing some additional farmland, he converted it all into a landscaped garden with exotic species, including a beautiful palm pathway which continues to welcome visitors today.

During the 1920s, the villa was extended and renovated in an Italian-Provencal style by the architect Henri Cerutti-Maori. In memory of Lord Radcliffe’s wife, who passed away prematurely, the estate was named “Val Rahmeh”, which means “valley of tranquillity” (in Arabic-Persian).

The estate was sold in 1934 and is enriched with new varieties according to the desires of its successive owners.

In 1957, Miss May Bud Campbell (1900-1982), a rich and eccentric English woman, acquired the estate and added a new plot to the lower part of it. The property became a venue for welcoming local public figures and her many English acquaintances from the Coast.

Miss Campbell at Val Rahmeh © MNHN

A trained botanist and plants enthusiast, she adorned the garden with rare and spectacular species from every continent. Miss Campbell was particularly enamoured by the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family, which earned her the nickname “Lady Daturas”. The villa was therefore surrounded with graceful muddle of plants, the maintenance of which was entrusted to four gardeners of the estate.

Having fallen into debt, in 1966 she was forced to sell the estate to the State, who entrusted the National Museum of Natural History with its management. The jumble of plants is then transformed into a real botanical garden, with thematic presentations and plants that are clearly identified. It has been open to the public since 1967.

Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN
Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN
Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN
Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN
Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN
Val Rahmeh botanical garden © MNHN