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The Inspiring Garden at Chateau Villandry in the Magnificent Loire Valley, France

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he Chateau Villandry Gardens are an absolute delight. They are enthusiastically and lovingly tended by the curator of the chateau and great-grandson of Dr Joachim Carvallo who purchased the chateau in 1906, Henri Carvallo.

At that time Villandry when Dr Carvallo purchased the property it was on the point of being demolished. It had been disfigured by additions, fake windows, the walling up of the arches and the moat had been filled in. DrJoachim Carvallo envisaged the harmonious renaissance architecture and the original design. He devoted himself to the restoration of Villandry and its gardens giving up an impressive career in science under the tutelage of a professor who later went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Later on Dr Carvallo founded the Association de la Demeure Historique with the objective of saving historic buildings throughout France. He sure saved Villandry which is now one of the most visited Loire Valley chateaux.

Carvallo's best work was the restoration of the gardens, which still make the reputation of Villandry. Gardens existed as early as the 16th century and these were reconstructed under Carvallo's instructions following evidence of engravings found in "Les plus Excellents Bastiments de France" (1576-1579) by Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau.

The Chateau Villandry gardens are the grandest examples of formal Renaissance style gardens in France. The gardens, which are terraced on three levels, were influenced by Italian gardeners brought in by Charles VIII. The protocol for plantings on each level are:

The first level is the highest, at or above ground level with the chateau, is the Le Jardin d'Eau, (water garden) featuring fountains, lawns and the reflecting pool whose edges are bounded by arbors.

The second level, includes the : Le Jardin d'Ornement, (ornamental gardens), consisting of 3 the Decorative Flower Garden, the Garden of Music, the Garden of Love and the Garden of Simple delights. In the front of this level where the castle stands is a bed planted with a pergola walk shaded by vines.

The third and lowest level, is the kitchen garden Le Potager, (vegetable garden), consists of vegetable plantings, 2fruit trees and bushes,as well as herbs for medical or seasoning purposes. This garden, in the Louis XIV style, and takes the form of a rectangle of slightly irregular shape surrounding on three sides the two higher tiers of gardens. It is devoted to vegetables and has 9 square sections divided into beds of various coloured plants, surrounded by box hedges and hardy plants. Villandry is a vegetal feast, with big purple cabbages, zigzags of crazy-growing leeks, beds of yellow and green peppers, blocks of autumn pumpkins and mounds of celery all replanted twice a year with a fastidious eye for the colours of the changing seasons.

At the opposite side of the garden to the castle, there is a maze of 12000 clipped beech trees. Each of these gardens is impressive in their own rights, so I will not recommend one more than the others. Without too much pomp and ceremony you can witness a chateau that lives in harmony with nature, and the remarkable beauty of these gardens. Villandry is well worth the visit Eight gardeners work at Chateau Villandry full time, and plant about 45,000 plants and 60,000 vegetables in its gardens each year.

In July each year Chateau Villandry holds Les Nuits des Mille Feux, when they light up the magical gardens of the Villandry castle with 2000 candles. Lit just as the sun begins to set, the candles burn on until after midnight in the beautiful grounds of the Loire's most famous chateau. Baroque music, played live by strolling musicians, adds to the mystical atmosphere during this quintessential Loire experience. It really is spectacular, so don't miss it if you can.

If you can not make it to the Les Nuits des Mille Feux in July, then you definitely should try to see all the Chateau Villandry gardens in the summertime, and preferably about two hours before sundown, as the light adds that certain 'Je-ne-sais-quoi'.

Madame CC

Corina Clemence operates Chateau du Guerinet a luxury french chateau near Blois in the Loire Valley, for up to fifteen people perfect for a fantastic french vacation with friends and family and for unwinding and visiting historic castles and vineyards. The chateau is perfect for a fairytale french wedding, party or any event. You can rent the whole chateau or rent a luxury suite. www.loirechateau.com Rent castle Hire Loire Valley castle. Go ahead rent a castle in France - rent a french chateau. Come explore the delightful garden at Villandry.


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