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Visit Chateau de Villandry
The Chateau de Villandry is famous for its gardens and in particular for its huge ornamental vegetable garden which is as beautiful as any flower garden. The castle is also open for visits but it is the gardens that attract the most visitors.
Explore the Chateau de Villandry
The Chateau de Villandry is the last of the Renaissance chateaux of the Loire to be built. The fortress that was destroyed to build Villandry was the location of the historic signing of the "Paix de Colombiers" when King Henry II of England came to admit defeat to the King of France.
The current chateau was built in 1536 for Jean le Breton who was finance minister to King Francois I. His descendents owned the chateau until 1754 when it was acquired by the Marquis de Castellane who built the classical outbuildings to the chateau.
In the 19th century the traditional gardens were uprooted to create a park around the chateau in the English-style that was fashionable at the time. Happily for us the chateau was bought in 1869 by Joachim Carvallo who decided to reinstate the gardens to a Renaissance style. With old surveys of the Villandry gardens and a book by a French 16th century architect describing the layout of Renaissance gardens Carvallo created the gardens we can visit today.
The kitchen garden is made up of nine equal squares and each one has its own pattern delineated with low box hedging and filled with blocks of different coloured vegetables to create beautiful ornamental vegetabe gardens. Vegetables used include "Vitessa" cabbage for blue-grey colour, golden celery to create yellow-green colour blocks, white aubergines and red beetroots.
Ornamental kitchen gardens were popular with monks in the Middle Ages and standard roses are planted in the kitchen gardens to represent the monks at work.
As well as the kitchen gardens there is the Ornamental garden which sits above the kitchen garden on the other side of a long water channel. The Ornamental gardens are also very formal in style with beautiful knot gardens of different patterns filled with bold-coloured flowers. Above the Ornamental garden is a belvedere which offers fantastic views of the Ornamental and Kitchen gardens below.
Beyond the Ornamental and Kitchen gardens there is also a Water garden, a Sun garden, a Herb Garden and a Maze. If you still have some energy you can take a walk in the woods where you can get some great views over the gardens and the village.
The chateau itself is an example of Renaissance architecture and its rooms have been refitted with 18th century decorations. It also has a collection of 17th and 18th century paintings and also an impressive Moorish ceiling.
Places to visit nearby
The Chateau of Azay le Rideau is nearby and offers quite a contrast as Azay is full of Italian influences and turrets and spires and is much more ornamental in style than the more simple French style of Villandry. Tours is a lovely city and has much to explore.