Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A leisurely stroll at Château de Villandry

Vegetable garden with Château de Villandry in the background
 It was his idea to visit at least one of the infamous Châteaux des la Loire whenever we are in France. I definitely said yes, who wouldn’t? On one sunny day, off we went to Villandry, known by its stunning gardens. Villandry is the last château built on the Loire banks during the Renaissance period by Jean le Breton, completed in 1536. Throughout history, the gardens of Villandry have been evolving under the influence of love-hate relationship between the French and English. I say that due to the fact that its traditional gardens were destroyed on the 19th century to be replaced by English-style park. However, Joachim Carvallo, who bought the castle in 1906 decided to restore the castle and bring back the old French traditional gardens that we marvel at today.

There are seven gardens in total, and each of them has a different theme. We paid €6 each for the garden tour only. The first garden we visited was the Ornamental garden, symbolizing different meaning of love, i.e. tender love, passionate love, fickle love and tragic love. We did not really pay attention on the shapes in the beginning, but when we read the brochure and saw the garden pattern again, the pattern did speak out the meaning. You will have a perfect view from the belvedere, the remains of ancient fortress, overlooking the gardens. We decided to skip the woods, and proceeded to the water garden, a pond in the form of Louis XV mirror surrounded by lime trees. Next stop was the sun garden, which are divided into three different areas, the cloud room, the sun room, and the children’s room, represented by different varieties of plants.

Later, we joined a group of children in the maze, immersing ourselves for a while with the hornbeam, and found our way out towards the herb garden. You may even smell the fresh basil and mints from few metres away. There is not much to see in the herb garden as it is quite small compared to other gardens, so we continued to walk to the vegetable garden. The garden is made up of nine squares which are filled with vegetables of different colours to create the illusion of a multi-coloured chessboard.

Gardens of Villandry

The Carvallo family, the owner, must have made such a great effort to maintain their beautiful palace. Every year, about 250,000 individual flowers and vegetables are planted, 50% of which are prepared in their own glasshouses. When we were there last summer, most of the vegetables and fruits were not ready to harvest yet their beautiful huge roses were blooming everywhere, superb!

See you again at our next château tour!

Château de Villandry – 37510 Villandry, France

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