A castle outdone by its gardens

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.

4 thoughts on “A castle outdone by its gardens

  1. The Villandry gardens are spectacular! Did you take these pictures? Acres of hedges! Andthere’s no one there? Are these places (palaces) kept up through government subsidy or — if it’s still in the family — are they privately owned and operated?

    1. I claim the pictures and will add more when I have a better internet connection. This is a privately owned family enterprise, and there were lots of visitors but no gardeners in sight. We do know that they have 10 of them just for the vegetable garden, so we suspect that there are another 20 or so tending the rest of the gardens.

  2. They must have an army of gardeners and yet there is not a single worker that I can find in your pictures. I wonder how they do that? ! ? ! It is just lovely.

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