The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

Gold on the Côte d'Azur, Wattle it be? Mimosa of course!

 panorama mimosa

Driving around anywhere on the Côte d'Azur at the moment you'll see a riot of yellow flowering trees everywhere; surprisingly one of the most spectacular places is along the motorway between Cannes and Mandelieu.  This beautiful bright golden flower is Mimosa, or Wattle as it's known as in its native country, and this year it's late, it should be over by now.  It's usually the first flower to bloom, glorious little balls of yellow fluff resembling miniature suns, heralding the end of winter, mid to late January.  Infact ours has always been out in time for Australia Day on January 26th but this year it didn't bloom till the second half of February.  I probably couldn't tell you when most of our plants flower but of this I'm sure.  Why? Because there's some Aussie in me and Mimosa comes from down under - Wattle is Australia's national flower.

       mimosa1

Mimosa was originally brought back from Australia in the mid 19th century by aristocratic English travellers who spent their winters on the Riviera.  They thought the climate would suit it and they were right; those first few specimens have now spread to become the largest Mimosa forest in Europe just outside Mandelieu in the Massif de Tanneron.  The delicate golden orbs that make up the flower have a lovely light perfume which contributed greatly to the development of the cosmetic industry in nearby Grasse.  Nowadays Mimosa is still very much used in the production of perfume and also for the cut flower industry.  It is exported all around the world from France and one third comes from the Mandelieu area.  It's the staple income for many villages nearby and to celebrate this vital contributor to the local economy Mandelieu has a Mimosa Festival every year in February.

       mimosa tanneron

To really get a feel of the enormity of the Mimosa forest and to envelop yourself in its beauty you need to walk on one of the many signed paths in the Massif or take a scenic drive from Mandelieu-La Napoule. Head out of the town on the D92, enjoying the gorgeous panoramic view of the coast, across Cannes to the Lérins islands and over to the mountain peaks.  The road then penetrates through the heart of the forest to the village of Tanneron passing many of the hiking trails (recognisable by their wooden signs, click here for detail).  Leave Tanneron on the sinuous D38 that winds down to St Cassien Lake offering lovely views over the Siagne valley and the forest.  From Lac St Cassien follow signs back to the A8 to return along the motorway, itself bordered by the magnificent trees.

       mimosa damage

Every year we go for a walk in the Mimosa forest,  last year we went just after a heavy snowfall which created a huge amount of damage.  There were broken branches and collapsed trees everywhere. This year it's surprising that we're still able to do it mid-March; that the flowers are still out and it's great to see their recovery from last year. I guess it's one of the only positive things about the late arrival of spring! Walking along a ridge looking over the trees the views are superb: patches of yellow in the green or acres of solid yellow are unlike any forest view I've ever seen, truly unique.  In photos it can be hard to see the difference from autumnal images of leaves turning yellow but in reality it's totally different, unbelievably pretty, and much more impressive than my photos suggest. 

       boys in Tanneron forest

       mimosa 1

Have you seen a Mimosa forest?  Do you know your country's national flower? I'd love to hear from you.

 

Lou Messugo
 
 
 
 
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Comments

  • Guest
    Rhonda Krause Friday, 06 March 2015

    I've never seen Mimosa forest before but it looks gorgeous! Yellow is my favourite colour, so I would definitely enjoy exploring this area!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    Oh you would Rhonda, you definitely would. You'll have to plan a trip for the second half of February one year.

  • Guest
    Betty Carlson Thursday, 05 March 2015

    I didn't realize the Australian connection either -- although it is not surprising.

    I can't even remember the Washington State flower, and I'm not so sure the USA has a national one!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    National flowers aren't very well known, I'm not sure if I knew about wattle from my mum or from when I researched this post. Either way I dodn't think many people are even aware there's such a thing!

  • Guest
    Christy Swagerty Thursday, 05 March 2015

    This is so cool! I would have never known about an actual mimosa forest in the South of France, so thank you so much for sharing this. I can't wait to share it with my garden-loving mom! Gorgeous, gorgeous photos, too, of course.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    Thanks Christy, I hope your mum likes the post.

  • Guest
    Chris Brown Thursday, 05 March 2015

    Fantastic pics, daffodils here oooop in the grim north, and they're all flowering now. I bet the Mimosa festival is great if it takes in so many of the local villages.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    daffs are lovely too. There's nothing like a garden full of them, so pretty.

  • Guest
    Catherine Sweeney Thursday, 05 March 2015

    I've never seen a Mimosa forest, but what a gorgeous sight it would be! We've got a lot of similar trees here in California that blossom in January. I'm not a tree expert (at all!), but I think they're Acacia trees. Thanks for introducing me to the word "wattle". :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    I'm not a tree expert either Catherine but I think wattle/mimosa is a sub species (or some such thing) of acacia, which would explain the similarity.

  • Guest
    Mel Thursday, 05 March 2015

    That's such an interesting post, Phoebe! I have never seen a Mimosa forest before, but your photos made me travel: beautiful shots!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    Thank you Mel.

  • Guest
    http://Margo Lestz Thursday, 05 March 2015

    How interesting- I had no idea that the mimosa came from Australia. Here in Nice it's the traditional carnival flower. I just thought it always bloomed during carnival. Back in the US, we had a pink version.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    It's such an integral part of Côte d'Azur February don't you think Margo?

  • shiggins
    shiggins Thursday, 05 March 2015

    How interesting! I thought mimosa looked a lot like wattle! I honestly didn't know it was the national flower of Oz, but I should have - growing up in rural West Australia. I thought mimosa was a cocktail with orange juice and champagne, or is it white wine ;). Great post.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 09 March 2015

    It's OJ and bubbles Sally, which is a perfectly acceptable thing for an Aussie to think of when hearing the word mimosa. As for not knowing the national flower, I find these things out when I start to research for a blog!

  • Guest
    Catherine Friday, 29 March 2013

    Wattle day in Oz 70 years ago was 1st September, first day of spring. It made me sneeze . Your photos are amazing. Thanks for sharing them. Wattle it be... Really!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 01 April 2013

    Wattle/Mimosa makes a lot of people sneeze around here, it's a high alergen, but luckily it doesn't get to me. I'm glad you liked my hopeless play on words!! :)

  • Guest
    Corinna Tuesday, 02 April 2013

    Lovely photos Phoebe. We have hundreds of Crocuses and Snowdrops out at the moment which are equally pretty but less impressive in presense and colour. WATTLE this ridiculous weather do next?

  • Aussie in France
    Aussie in France Tuesday, 26 March 2013

    Wish I was there!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 29 March 2013

    You should visit next year in February, you'd love it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  • Guest
    Meire Weishaupt Sunday, 24 March 2013

    Wow...interesting to read and know about other places and the simple stuff in people's life as a walk or different kind of flower! Thanks for the post!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 29 March 2013

    Thanks for commenting Meire. Where do you live? Like you said, it's always interesting to hear about other people's lives!!

  • Guest
    Delia @ Blog Formatting Saturday, 23 March 2013

    Thanks for this flow of spring, Phoebe!
    It looks like the snow is still stubborn here in Canada, so I need to be more patient :) I am really looking forward to the spring to come once and for all!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 29 March 2013

    Aren't we all Delia! It's very late here this year too! It's always a pleasure to see you here, thanks for commenting Delia! :)

  • Guest
    Rachel S. Friday, 22 March 2013

    Lovely! We have them here, too, in California, and every spring when they pop out I think of you!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 22 March 2013

    And I think of you too Rachel as you gave us ours. It's such a lovely reminder of you and it's very happy in our garden despite all the attemps of the snow to damage it. It's growing big now. Did you ever go to Tanneron when you were here?

  • Guest
    Rachel S. Friday, 22 March 2013

    We did not, unfortunately! So much left undone, but I suppose that will keep us plenty busy when we make our way back again for a visit!

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Friday, 22 March 2013

    Great colours, didn't realise the Australian connection mate

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 22 March 2013

    Well now you do Adam! You learn something new every day, hey mate? :)

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