The sun is shining and it is warm and bright here in the Loire countryside. Wonderful weather for travelling around the countryside looking at chateau and quaint historical villages.
The countryside is remarkably flat and there are wheat feilds for miles along the sides of the roads....they are green and verdant and you can almost smell them growing in the sunshine. We are happily getting tanned as we wander gardens and castles.
There is so much history here and I am only just realising it as I read about medieval villages and even earlier hunting lodges knocked down to build chateau in the 10th, 11th or 12th century.
People like Richard the Lionheart, Henry Plantagenant and Franciose I feature often in pamphlets talking about the surrounding villages and castles as well as Queens and Kings and wars and rulers through generations and centuries....its all a bit
We have visited many towns that claim history with Jean of Arc....she was one busy lady and much more involved in many wars and skirmishes than I had realised at all. She was a real warrior and convinced kings and dukes and important politicians that they all needed to go to war and she was the one to do it!
There are some seriously tough and go ahead women that lived in this area through the centuries. Everywhere we have gone, women have been instrumental in building, organising, ruling and making things happen.
History pervades the modern everyday as well with old historical houses and streets being well utilised and still lived in and renovated today...modern convenience sits easily with ancient stone. It's not really until you see it and start to read about it while actually looking at it that it starts to enter ones consciousness.
It is of course fabulous and except for cars and internet are we really that different than when they were living in the 10th century....gettting a bit philosophical now... I'll stop.
But when it comes to gardens ....they were good at them then and they are certainly good at making them still look good now.
A visit to Villandry for the most french of gardens in the Loire is an absolute must....so off we went
An amazing very very French styled chateau and garden. I was always under the impression that it was all about royalty at villandry but it seems I was slightly wrong.
Its has the feel and decoration of a well put together and well loved family very wealthy country home (all be it very large...but if one can afford it then..!)
The castle is light and beautiful and so very different from some of the darker richer more gilt medieval and renaissance castles we have seen. The fabrics and painted wall decorations and linens were just superb and put together with such wonderful mix and match style.... they know how to decorate in these chateaux.
The garden of course is famous and is on an amazing scale....
Very very French formal...it was remodelled and redesigned from the 1906 by the owner from that time Joachim Carvallo. He restored the castle and researched historical renaissance gardens to lay out the garden in a very formal french style.
Before this they had pulled out the formal french gardens from previous generations and installed sweeping English style!!
His study where he did most of the work for the design of the garden is an oasis of light and green and stylish decor and I would love to just transport it home and enjoy it for myself.
There are wonderful views of the garden from every window and the garden itself is on an enormous almost incomprehensible scale for a privately owned property.
There are 10 full time gardeners.
We wander the woodland and it is lovely....deep green shade and patches of speckled light through tree tops and leaves........and the day before had been wondering if there was anything like poisonous snakes in France..... well I can tell you there are....we saw one....
And I didn’t hang around to take the photo.
The garden is very stiff and very controlled and its probably not to everyones taste....
but it is magnificent and certainly worth the hours it took to wander around it and in some ways a work of art and very clever.
The vegetable garden is of course famous and strictly laid out for colour and interest and formality with mini tight hedges forming strict patterns. It is planted with a spring planting from March to June and then a summer planting from June to November. It is all potager flowers and vegetables inside its rigid shapes and hedges.
The other striking part of the garden is the lengthy and numerous allees of lime trees. There are over 1200 lime trees forming formal allees over the whole domain of the garden.
We were enchanted and awed. Truly fabulous.