Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gardens in France

Welcome to my post,  Gardens in France ~ Left to right are Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, and Château de Villandry

In early May, my husband and I visited the Loire Valley in France. We toured five beautiful chateaus with gorgeous gardens. Château Chenonceau (pictured above) was the first château we toured and was definitely my favorite. I will be blogging about the amazing interiors in a later post but today I am concentrating on the gardens.

 Château Chenonceau was approached through an allee of old plane trees.   The walk to the grounds of the château was pleasant, with a nice breeze. As we left the shade of the trees, the view of the château and the immense and beautiful grounds did not disappoint. A matching pair of huge stone statuaries greeted us and led past a long row of impressive topiary planters on both sides of the road.  

Here is a close up of the huge statuaries that greeted us at the end of the allee. 

The keep on the left is called the Marques Tower and was restored in Renaissance style by Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briconnet in the 16th century. With the intention of building a chateau on this site, they demolished the fortified castle and mill belonging to the Marques family and left standing just the keep: the Marques tower. Also still standing now, besides the tower is the well, decorated with a chimera and eagle, emblem of the Marques family. I wish I had taken a close up of the well but we were encouraged to keep moving and I could see the huge château beckoning us.

Now pass the entrance and the tower  I want you to get an overall view of how amazing Château Chenonceau is.

The unique architecture of the chateau built across the River Cher is very impressive. This picture was posted at the entrance and I am glad I took a picture of it of because I couldn't photograph the view from the other side of the river. 

Château Chenonceau was built in the 16th century  and is one of the most visited chateau in France. Boats can pass through the arches and were used to deliver food and drink directly to the kitchen. Earlier chateaus were built for defensive purposes, but Chenonceau was the first great pleasure palace. In 1515, Thomas Bohier, revenue collector for King Francis I, began the construction of Château Chenonceau. Unfinished at the time of his death, construction of the chateau was completed by Bohier's wife and son. In 1535, however, King Francis I took the estate in payment of debts. In 1547, King Henry II, son of Francis I, gave the chateau to his "favorite" lady, Diane de Poitiers.( It was nicknamed the "chateau of the ladies" because it housed many famous women over the centuries.) 
Diane de Poitiers extended the structure by a bridge across the Cher and created gardens which were among some of the most spectacular and modern at that time. By building the famous bridge on the River Cher, she made the architecture of Chenonceau unique in the world.

Diane's Garden has two perpendicular and two diagonal paths that border eight lawned triangles decorated with delicate scrolls of santolina. The garden is bordered by raised terraces that protect the garden when water levels rise in the river Cher. They are decorated with gorgeous urns that were most elaborate.

I zoomed out to get a closer look at the urns.  There are a great many urns that go around three sides of the garden.
This is a Google Earth screenshot in which you can see the exquisite detailing on the urns.

This is another Google Earth photo. The estate is huge and this gives you a little perspective. 
This picture is on the other side of the Marques Tower and on the left you can see a glimpse of Catherine's garden. 
Moi in Catherine's Garden loving every minute. Catherine's Garden was finished in 1568. The garden had flowers, fruits and vegetables like melons and artichokes which at the time were considered exotic.

Looking out from the wall, you can see the river.

Chenonceau is an amazing architectual feat.
This is Catherine's Garden made from a balcony of the chateau. Remember the "ladies of the chateau" I mentioned. When King Henry died (pierced in a jousting tournament in Paris) Queen Catherine de 'Medici removed Diane de Poiters, from Chenonceau to Château Chaumont. Catherine added the three story structure across Diane's bridge.

Château Chenonceau was so enjoyable for me. I can't wait to show you the inside of the chateau. Every room had fresh flower arrangements in gorgeous containers.

I couldn't resist showing you one of the beautiful fresh floral arrangements. I found out later there was a flower and vegetable garden on the property that I would have loved to have seen. A team of about ten gardeners grows a hundred or so different varieties of flowers for cutting  and 400 rose bushes needed for the interior floral decoration of the chateau. My picture was hurriedly snapped because it was hard not to have people in front of the arrangements.

If you are not following Living With Thanksgiving on Instagram please join me. This photo is another of the fresh arrangements at Chenonceau. I posted this arrangement on my Instagram account a while back. It was my inspiration for a centerpiece I will be using for the Red, White and Blue Patriotic Tablescape bloghop this week, June 25-29. My tablescape will be Wednesday. You can check the schedule here for viewing other posts. There are quite a few of Pam's Gardens Galore regular readers as well as herself participating.

 We were told roaring log fires are burning in the winter in all the fireplaces. It was truly beautiful and so exciting. I can only imagine how beautiful it is at Christmas. To see amazing antiques, gorgeous tapestries and try to absorb all the history I was overwhelmed with all the details and such beauty.  
After a lunch at Caves Duhard in Amboise our next stop was the largest chateau in the Loire Valley, Château Chambord. We were with a small group of six and our guide that narrated our chateau tours.

The estate of Chambord is a national game reserve as large as the town of Paris. 

It was a long walk up to the huge château. Château Chambord has 440 rooms and and fireplace for very day of the year. Its four floors are each separated by 46 stairs giving it very high ceilings. Only 80 of the rooms are open for the public but that was plenty. 
Mike and I going into Château Chambord.

We were greeted by this medieval couple.
 On the ground floor the double helix staircase never fails to draw attention. It is believed Leonardo da Vinci took part in the conception of the project. The double spiral staircase is a highlight. It consists of two separate flights of stairs, twin helices proceeding upwards around a hollow newel post. It two persons choose to use different flights, they will see each other through numerous loopholes as they ascend without ever meeting.
Views from numerous terraces give splendid views of Chambord's Gardens.

Isn't it fabulous?

Because of time we viewed the gardens from above. We toured five chateaus in two days. The others not included in this post are: Château D'Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Minière and Châteaus de Langeais. 
Our next stop was the spectacular gardens of Villandry. I would recommend touring Château De Villandry in the morning when it is not so warm. By the time we got to Villandry after two other chateau tours that morning it was very warm. As you can see, the gardens cover a very large area.  I'm zooming in from the belvedere of the chateau which gives superb views over the gardens.
Video of the Gardens at Villiandry
I could do an extensive post on Villandry alone having a 47 page guidebook with details of each garden. Narrative written here are from that guidebook.
A few interesting facts about the care and maintence of the garden are that they employ 9 gardeners full time and there are two apprentices. Before the war, there were about fifteen gardeners. Machines are now used to save time, compared to the old methods, for watering and for pruning the boxwoods. Weeding is done entirely by hand with paring knives and hoes. Watering is automatic; it is controlled by computer to reduce the quanity of water to the strict minimum. Regular hoeing in the flowerbeds also limits the need for watering. Pruning the 1,050 lime trees are done with hydraulic pruning shears and a lifting platform. It takes 2 months and 4 men to prune the lime trees. Pruning the boxwood by electric shears takes 3 weeks for 4 men for the small boxwood in the vegetable garden and 6 weeks for the large boxwoods in the ornamental gardens. Pruning is done in June for the love gardens and the crosses and in October for the music garden. 
To brighten up the vegetable garden, several species of spring flowers are planted in the borders surrounding each of the nine squares: blue and yellow pansies in alternation, orange wallflowers and white forget-me-nots;these are planted out in the previous autumn(biennial plants). 
In summer the squares are edged with annuals such as red begonias, verbena venosa, helichrysum, bidens and gaillardia. To fill the kitchen garden, needed are a total of 20,000 flower plants and 30,000 vegetables in spring and 21,000 in summer, which means each year, with the two planting schemes, 71,00 plants in all.
Since 2009, in the vegetable garden chemical fertilization has been eliminated and replaced with organic fertilization methods.

Notice the urn on the left side of this picture. I made this photo in early May before the rose topiaries opened and I took it from above. You will be in for a treat if you open the following link to a instagram picture of the gorgeous urn with the roses blooming and also view the photographers full Instagram feed.
Chateau Villandry by Georgianna Lane. It is such a beautiful picture. If you do not have an instagram account you may not be able to open the link but I was able to get a photo in the next frame.

 This is the gorgeous photograph from Georgianna Lane. I was able to get a screen shot. I wrote and asked permission to use her photo but haven't heard from her yet.  If you do not follow her Instagram feed you are missing a treat. Georgianna is a talented photographer and her book Paris in Bloom (available on Amazon) is an exceptional book that I have enjoyed. She knew when to visit Chateau de Villandry when the rose topiaries were blooming. After doing an instagram search of Villandry Gardens this photo is by far the very best I saw. It took my breath away! Aren't the two shades of pink roses perfect! And that urn!

I have so much more to share on Gardens in France but this has gotten lengthy. On other France trips, we visited a hilltop garden in Dordogne~ Les Jardins de Marqueyassac, Jardins de Versailles, Monet's Garden, Jardin du Luxembourg,  and Jardin des Tuileries

Thank you, Pam for hosting your lovely Garden Party.

Reference resources include Chateau guidebooks and Rick Steves, Europe.

 Gardens Galore  
Metamorphosis Monday   Show and Share  The Scoop  Celebrate and Decorate  Inspire Me Tuesday  Wow Us Wednesday  Tablescape Thursday  Share Your Style Party  Share Your Cup Full Plate Thursday
 Feathered Nest Friday  Dishing It & Digging It   Calypso in the Country Sunday's At Home


  1. Wow! Those chateaus and their gardens are just too wonderful for words! I will probably never get to see these places in person so thank you for posting all of these beautiful pictures for me and others to see.

  2. Oh Bonnie!!!!! Amazing photographs. Jim and I visited these same chateaus several years ago. I love seeing your photos while everything is lush and green. My favorite also, Château de Chenonceau! Wasn't it breathtaking? We were there during the Christmas holidays. Fires in the fireplaces and beautiful fresh holiday arrangements in every room. I enjoyed the history in your post and it brought back all my memories. My favorite room was the kitchen. Of course I loved Chambord as well. Great picsof you and Mike. I'm sure it was a fabulous trip for you and Mike. Thanks for sharing this enchanting destination..........

  3. Oh my...Lucky you Bonnie and your hubby to be able to take in all the beauty of the chateaus and gardens. I would think your eyes would cross by chateau #5 and all the opulence and history. ;) The lush greenery of the gardens and such intricate seems like an undertaking in this day and age but can you imagine when it was done by hand? Thank you for my trip to France this morning, it's on our bucket list. I'm going to have to return to your post for another peek and take it all in. ♥

  4. Oh Bonnie ~ I am speechless. The beauty is overwhelming and I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been to see it first hand. France is my dream trip and I thank you for this magnificent post, which I will read and re-read.

  5. Magnificent Bonnie! You have put this together beautifully. I will go back and revisit so I can take it all in. This is a dream trip. Thank you for the wonderful job you have done sharing it.

  6. The gardens of Paris and the French chateaus around the countryside are reason enough to visit France. Thanks for sharing your amazing tour! Love this!!!

  7. These chateau gardens are all so spectacular they hardly seem real. You are so fortunate to be able to take such an amazing trip. I've pinned your post and put these gardens on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your lovely pics!

  8. These are the kinds of gardens I like to visit but wouldn't want to live there! Talk about upkeep, but they are stunning. And what a wonderful holiday for you both. All that history and I know as elegant inside as out!

  9. Wow how beautiful are these gardens! Love the Chambord’s gardens with the fleur de lis. Everything is such a grand scale. Thank you for sharing - I enjoy seeing things like this as I don’t ever expect to be able to visit them.

  10. Thank You for the video. As I was reading I was hoping for a video! Beautiful! No doubt about it, It ALL takes your breath AWAY!!!

  11. Oh Bonnie, I really am quite speechless! I can only try to imagine the beauty your experienced visiting these incredible chateaus and gardens! Can you imagine living in a chateau like that?? I was fascinated with all the facts and details of the gardens, and that they were working gardens to keep food and flowers in the chateaus. Thank you for sharing all these fabulous photos and facts, I look forward to seeing more inside!

  12. Oh my mercy Bonnie. How breath taking are these pictures. So very lovely. Girl, what a blessing for you. I can only imagine living in a place like that. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  13. Bonnie, I must get to the Loire Valley! I couldn’t wait to read your post. You did a magnificent job taking us along with you with your descriptions and photography! The upkeep and maintenance is unbelievable, when I read how long it took to prune the boxwoods. I too will revisit this post to take in the beauty, the elaborate detail, and the breathtaking gardens. Great photos of you and Mike! There are so many who will never be able to travel to France, but thanks to you even armchair travel is fabulous! Thank you for sharing this most special post with Gardens Galore!

  14. You're right, this is so much garden, so much information, and though a long post, so intriguing! I cannot even imagine the wealth of affording a property so vast, so lush as the royals have, but to see it and read about it is a fantastical journey. Tthank you for sharing this visit through your lens and mind's review, Bonnie!

  15. Bonnie, thank you so much for the tour! I can't wait to see the interiors! It is my dream to visit France one day, and the photographs that you shared make me want to go even more! I hope that you enjoy your day!!!

  16. Bonnie,
    Thank you for sharing the beautiful gardens of the French Loire Valley chateaux. Chenonceau Chateau is also my favorite, as it is with most women. The stories of the five major women who created, restored, and protected the chateau are amazing bits of French history all the way through World War II when the castle's bridge was a connection between German occupied France and Free France.


  17. Good Morning Bonnie,
    Such a wonderful treat for you to share the history Of France and these glorious gardens. I have never been to France, but it is one of my wishes to do so. I'd love to take one of my daughters and share the experience with her. Such inspiration and I love seeing this sweet photo of you too!

    Lovely to have you join us for the garden party,


  18. Bonnie, this was truly a dream trip. Wasn't it? I'm so glad you shared these beautiful photos! I want to go now.

  19. Bonnie, this is absolutely breathtaking! I can not even imagine what it would have been like to live in such elegance. I love the pic of it with the blossoming trees in front. Cute pic of you and hubby! Thanks for sharing with the Garden Party.

  20. Thanks for sharing those beautiful garden photos, I will probably never get to see any French gardens in person, but I've loved seeing them through your camera lens.

  21. Lovely photographs, it looks like you had perfect weather on your trip. I agree with you, Château Chenonceau is my favorite chateau but when it comes to gardens Château De Villandry is the best. I've seen them in spring and fall when they look quite different so I really enjoyed your photos of another time of the year...beautiful.

  22. Beautiful! I love the chateau and gardens. If I ever get a chance to return to France I would love to visit these places!

  23. Hi Bonnie,

    This chateau and its gardens are absolutely spectacular!! Believe it or not, I have a tapestry in our dining room with Chenonceau on it. I chose it for the colors in our room, but also loved the look of the chateau. We've never been to Chenonceau, but my in-laws have, and they told me it's amazing. Maybe one day, Hal and I will visit. I love that you were able to take pictures inside, and thanks so much for sharing with us. The other two chateaus were gorgeous, as well; how lucky you were to get to visit. Have a great week!



  24. Those gardens really do take your breath away! Wow, the Villandry Gardens are just amazing! What an incredible tour...your photos are stunning. I am sure that will be one trip to remember! Thanks for sharing with us at the Take Me Away Party for July. I read your post on my phone a few weeks ago but realized I needed to come back to comment. Thanks again for joining us and have a great weekend!


Your comments are so encouraging and make my day. I would love to know what you are thinking.
Please consider following by email or Bloglovin'. Thank you for reading my blog.