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Now Open: Exotic Garden’s Botanical Centre and José Notari Library

Construction projects throughout Monaco have been making progress with the reopening of the Exotic Garden’s Botanical Centre and the José Notari Video and Sound Library. The public can now enjoy the two spaces with free entry, as of 8 March 2021. In other construction news, work on the Exotic Garden itself is taking longer than anticipated, meaning that the garden will now remain closed until 2022.

Botanical Centre Now Open

Inaugurated in 2017, the Botanical Centre is home 10,500 plants in 900 m² of greenhouses and 1,000 m² of shelters spread over three levels. The public can now discover some of the rarest and most endangered succulents on the planet and learn more about their conservation. Open Monday to Thursday from 8:30 am to 11:30 am and from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm as well as Friday from 8:30 am to 11:30 am; with a limitation of 20 visitors at a time on site. 

On Saturdays, free guided tours with a specialist gardener are available at 10 am and 2 pm, by reservation at +377 93 15 29 80. (The Botanical Centre is located at 62, boulevard du Jardin Exotique.)

José Notari Video and Sound Library Now Open

The José Notari Video and Sound Library has also reopened, in its brand new location at 2 rue Princesse Antoinette. The premises are located near the Louis Notari Library and the Caroline-Ludothèque Library. By 2024, all the sections of the Monaco Media Library will be brought together on the Ilot Pasteur. 

Visitors of the José Notari Video and Sound Library, which was previously located at Villa Lamartine, will find a wide range of music and film collections with over 18,500 CDs and 10,500 DVDs. There is also a relaxation area and a multimedia room equipped with computer stations. Finally, a returns box installed outside will make it possible to return items outside of opening hours, while a loans and returns machine will be available soon. The whole library team is eager to reconnect with the public and present musical and cinematographic gems.  (The José Notari Video and Sound Library is located at 2 rue Princesse Antoinette (+ 377) 93 30 64 48) 

Closure of Exotic Garden extended until 2022

Due to major works to secure the site, the Jardin Exotique de Monaco will remain closed to the public until 2022. Work began in May 2020, coordinated under the leadership of François Lallemand, Deputy Mayor, and Benjamin Marchal, Head of Department. 15 employees are mobilized everyday to work on the artificial rocks and footbridges. 

These are the most important works ever undertaken at the Exotic Garden since its opening in 1933. Initially planned for completion in early 2020, the work was postponed due to lockdown and turned out to be much more complex than expected, for several reasons. First of all, because the initial work carried out between 1913 and 1933, when the Garden was created, was never listed or documented. Workers therefore had to discover how the site was constructed at the time. The topography of the garden on the cliff side also makes it particularly difficult to transport machinery and materials as well as remove rubble. For safety reasons, the demolition of artificial rocks, which may have fallen on or near the public path, began in the summer of 2020. This work is being carried out in several sectors of the Exotic Garden. 

To date, most of the dangerous man-made rocks on the Cap d’Ail side have been secured. Work will continue throughout 2021 with the support of the Public Works Department, on the slope located on the Menton side. The next step will be the reconstruction of these artificial rocks. At the same time, work is being undertaken on the footbridges. 

All nine footbridges, which were made of metal beams coated with faux wood, will be replaced. By the end of March, four of the bridges (4.80 to 9 metres long) will have been replaced. The large cranes are used at night because it means cutting off traffic on the Boulevard du Jardin Exotique. 

Budget of One Million Euros

To carry out this large-scale work, the Municipal Council unanimously validated the use of 1.16 million euros from the Municipal Financial Fund (2020 amending budget): 660,000 euros for securing artificial rocks and 500,000 euros for the replacement and repair of the four footbridges. To this total, nearly 100,000 euros were used for preliminary studies, surveys and tests. The last phase of the works will be taken over by the Prince’s Government. 

A team of gardeners is currently present on site for the daily maintenance of plants. The Exotic Garden contains thousands of species, some of which are centuries old. Care is taken to protect the plants as much as possible. Some succulents have been enveloped at the base, others are protected by large canvases, and fences have been installed to contain the largest rocks. 

The modernization of the Exotic Garden’s irrigation network, the refurbishment of the rainwater drainage network as well as the installation of a lighting network, will be subsequently necessary. With a new look, the Exotic Garden will once again be able to open its doors to the public by 2022.

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