As an Australian living on the French Riviera, it was a surprise to see that mimosa is so strongly associated with this region of France. Originally from South Eastern Australia, acacia dalbata, or wattle as it is known in my country, was widely introduced in the Mediterranean by the English in the early 19th century along with eucalyptus trees. It has flourished in the warm temperate climate to become an invasive species in the national parklands.
Mimosa is a fast-growing evergreen tree which can reach 30m in height. Typically it is one of the first species to appear after a fire, so is suited to the wild-fire prone Mediterranean area. The spectacular bright yellow flowerheads are made up of numerous small globes and their essence, called ‘cassie’ , is used in perfumes to sweet, hazy effect.
Route du Mimosa
The Route du Mimosa is a 130 kilometre drive that will take you from flowered towns to coastal gardens. Naturally, it begins in Bormes-les-Mimosas, a medieval village which is a riot of flowers from January to March. For the past 81 years it has boasted The Corso Fleuri – when fifteen floats decorated with 80,000 flowers parade through its cobbled streets. The Corso Fleuri 2019 takes place on the 23rd and 24th February.
Continue on to Sainte Maxime, a seaside resort town which celebrates the Corso du Mimosa on the first Sunday of February. The local botanical gardens, le Jardin des Myrtes, has a magnificent collection of indigenous bushes and trees to admire.
Mandelieu Mimosa Festival
Less than an hour’s drive away from Villa Fontane in La Garde Freinet is Mandelieu La Napoule, which is famous for its street fair celebrating the flowering of mimosa in the region. Since its creation in 1931, the Mandelieu Mimosa Festival has been an integral part of the winter festivals of the Côte d’Azur, attracting many out-of-towners as well as locals during the eight day festivities which culminate in the election of the Queen of Mimosa.
Unfortunately the 2022 edition has been cancelled due to the covid pandemic – but nothing stops the mimosa from flowering!
Your driving tour passes through Mandelieu and finishes in the famous city of Grasse, where you can visit three of the world’s greatest perfumeries – Fragonard, Galimard and Molinard.
Each of these destinations can be easily reached from our guest house, La Villa Fontane in La Garde Freinet. We too have mimosa trees and the air is filled with sunshine at this time of year.