The best chateau experience so far was our trip to Villandry, where a wonderfully restored Renaissance castle overlooks a magnificent 16th century series of gardens.
We are not talking about a few flowerbeds here. No, this garden…complex…is stunning in its scope and it truly dwarfs the lovely chateau in its excess.
It is also quite authentic in its design, having been faithfully recreated from 16th century records by its early 20th century owner. It is, in fact, the only remaining such garden in all of France.
First, the castle and its interior – almost homey, and still home to the Carvallo family who restored it in 1906. The money came from Ann Coleman (Mrs. Carvallo), iron and steel heiress from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
And then there are the gardens, which can be seen from every room. Some are ornamental, others feature flowers, and much focus is dedicated to the herb and vegetable gardens, the potagers. No matter which perfectly executed part is in view, the effect is spectacular.
We next went on to Tours, an ancient city which did not survive the war well, so it is mostly modern. However, there are still some 15th century remains, which are quite wonderful. We had lunch in the lovely square which had once been the hat market. Must have been quite a sight.