Originally published in Destination France, Issue 14, October 2006
Véronique Gray strolls around the beautiful gardens
Colorful potager in the Villandry’s gardens
If you had always wanted to visit Villandry but never seized the opportunity, this year is the time to do it. The estate is celebrating its 100-year anniversary since Joachim Carvallo bought it.
Villandry is reknown throughout the world for its beautiful Renaissance gardens. Among its many labels, it carries the title of Jardin Remarquable, a distinction you probably will agree with after spending a good hour needed for the outside.
There are three main gardens levelled on terraces: a vegetable garden with 110,000 plants, a water garden and ornamental gardens comprised of a symbolic love garden, a music garden and a cross garden. The vegetables shapes and colours, the hearts filled with flowers and the clipped box hedges will make lifetime memories.
The castle is quite interesting especially the living room, the kitchen, the spiral staircase and of course the well-known picture gallery. Joachim Carvallo loved art and his great grand son, Henry, is recovering slowly some of his great-grand father’s masterpieces. Out of the about 300 paintings, only 60 remain today.
Fortunately the estate of Villandry was bought at the right time by a couple, who cared about saving historical houses. Joachim Caravallo, from the Southwest of Spain and his spouse, Ann Coleman, a fortunate American from Pennsylvania renovated it from 1907 to around 1918. They redid the castle façade and the gardens as they were at the time of Jean le Breton in the 16th century. Most of the work was done on the gardens. Thanks to them, in 1924 the association Demeures Historiques was created, to help save old French estates and have them open to the public.
It is difficult to decide which season I should recommend as they all have their bonuses. Whenever you go, try visiting the gardens two hours before sunset.
FIND OUT MORE
Le Potager, 37510 Villandry
Telephone 0033 (0)2 47 50 12 66
Chateau de Villandry
T: (0033) (0)2 47 50 02 09
From Tours D7 direction Savonnières or A10 exit 24 Joué-les-Tours, A85 exit 8
TGV from Gare Montparnasse to Tours Saint-Pierre-des-Corps
BA and Air France fly from Gatwick to Tours
Ryanair fly to Tours from Nottingham and Stansted.