PRINCE IN BLOOM

Byline: Robert Murphy

PARIS — With the Prince Jardinier, his recently opened gardening shop, Prince Louis-Albert de Broglie is the latest French aristocrat to stake his claim to Paris’s Palais Royal.
“It’s fitting for a prince to occupy royal quarters,” says the 37-year-old de Broglie, whose twin-level boutique, set in the palace’s southern gallery, features his self-designed line of gardening tools and apparel as well as books, furniture, seeds, herbs and other garden paraphernalia.
Amateur horticulturists Maryvonne Pinault, wife of the French tycoon Francois Pinault, and Princess Michael of Kent are among de Broglie’s clients.
“Gardening came as an epiphany to me,” says the prince, who abandoned a career in investment banking to become a full-time gardener. “After living the frenzy of the Eighties, I wanted to do something concrete.”
His first project was restoring the neglected grounds of the 15th-century Chateau de la Bourdaisiere, in the Loire Valley, which de Broglie purchased in 1991. Today he runs the estate as a bed-and-breakfast and has opened the 150-acre park, which includes a lavish garden with more than 450 types of tomatoes, to the public.
“I think most people today have become too far removed from nature,” adds de Broglie. “The shop is part of my contribution in trying to inspire people to look around them and appreciate the world.”