Traces of French Culture in Palanga: The Historical Context of Palanga Botanical Park, Personalities, and Memory

  • Julija Paškevičiūtė
Keywords: French culture, Palanga Botanical Park, Counts Tyszkiewicz, great-granddaughter of Édouard André, Florence André


The article focuses on the origins of French culture in Palanga, a Lithuanian seaside resort, that go back to the years of the rule of the Tyszkiewicz family. The emphasis is put on Palanga Botanical Park (created before the end of the nineteenth century) as the most significant trace of French culture present in the resort and the seaside region until now. The specific symbols in the park created according to the will of the Counts Tyszkiewicz reflect the actualities of French culture. The importance of this space in the city is revealed, and Édouard François André’s principles of park creation are discussed in a new context. They are related to the dialogue that has been established between the residents of Palanga, the park, its creator, and his granddaughter Florence André since the first years of the independence of Lithuania. In order to give a meaning to Édouard André’s creation and to the relationship between the two countries, the correspondence between the great-granddaughter of the famous French landscape designer and the former director of the park, Antanas Sebeckas, is disclosed. It reflects the endeavour of these two personalities and its value for the international relations in representing French culture to the public. Florence André’s letters to the author of this article are also an important resource as she explains the reasons why the park plays an essential role in Palanga. It is shown how certain personal life events (Florence André’s wedding ceremony in Palanga, the park created by her great-grandfather) have become an inclusive part of the history of the town and represent intercultural relations and exchanges. The article is also based on some memories and narratives of the members of the local community in which the park features as a symbol and tradition of the city.