If you’re into exploring nature (plants, animals and insects) and you ever find yourself in Provence, France, then you should definitely check out the Harmas Jean Henri Fabre. A beautiful old house and gorgeous gardens await you inside the old stone walls, and not only is it a tranquil little retreat from the outside world, but it’s also very interesting and informative! Step inside to learn more…
Who was Jean Henri Fabre?
Jean Henri Fabre was a French teacher, physicist, chemist and botanist although he was most well known as an entomologist. His books on the lives of insects were very popular and he is credited as being an influence on Charles Darwin. He was from Aveyron in France and also spent time living and working in Corsica and Avignon. In 1879 when he was 56 years old he bought a one-hectare piece of land near Avignon and created a ‘field laboratory’ where he could observe insects. This estate, or ‘harmas’ is now a property of the French National Museum of Natural History and is open to the public; you can visit the gardens and parts of the house to see some of Fabre’s collections of insects, fossils and other natural curiosities.
Harmas Jean Henri Fabre
The house and gardens are beautifully maintained and interesting to explore. You aren’t allowed to take photos of the exhibits inside but they were really fascinating. There were hundreds upon hundreds of bugs, beetles, butterflies and other insects on display, as well as lots of fossils, antique equipment and preserved animals such as snakes. Some of the rooms in the house have been recreated so that you can see how Fabre lived and worked, including the writing table he used. But the garden is also amazing, with a conservatory, a herbarium, a pool with a fountain, an arboretum, an ornamental garden and so many different plants, trees and flowers.
Below left is the outside of the conservatory and to the right is the ornamental pond with fountain and a statue of a Kingfisher – which I thought was real at first!
Even though it was a very hot day we had a lovely time walking amongst the shaded paths in the gardens, marvelling over the flowers that we had never seen before and trying not to get lost!
Below left is a miniature ‘mountain’ meant to represent the local Mont Ventoux, complete with alpine-type plants; and to the right are some fascinating almost love-heart-shaped flowers. I have no idea what they are so if anyone knows, please tell me!
We were even surprised by some little tortoises running around, which then proceeded to shock us even more by fornicating right in front of us!
There was a sign telling us that they are Hermann’s tortoise, a type named for French naturalist Johan Hermann and found throughout Southern Europe. Dennis and I were visiting with my friends Jessie and Elvin, and their son Felix. Felix was quite fascinated by these strange little animals and the funny noises they were making!
Although another tortoise made up for the horny ones by posing nicely under some daisies for me:
It’s definitely a lovely and interesting place for a visit, so if you’re ever in Provence and are at all interested in insects, gardens or humping tortoises then you should check it out! It costs 6 euros in Summer and 4 in Winter. You can have a look at the website here (in French) for some official photos of the the collections inside the house as well.
Do you like visiting places with animals, plants and/or insects? Let me know in the comments where you have been and if you saw any naughty animals ‘doing it’! And don’t forget to pin this for later if you enjoyed reading.