Château de Villandry

FRANCE CENTRE Le jardin du château de VillandryChateau de Villandry [3 Rue Principale, +33 247500209, ad/ch €9/Free (Prices vary)] was completed in 1536, towards the end of the Renaissance era, making it one of the last Renaissance castles in the Loire Valley. The château stands at the site of a former fortress ‘Colombier’, which was acquired by Jean Le Breton- one François I’s Finance Ministers. The current castle comprises of one medieval tower (from the ‘Colombier’ fortress) and a mainly Renaissance façade (with a touch of Classical influence).

Jean Le Breton left his mark on the castle in two ways- the first being his coat of arms, mounted on the gable of a dormer window; and the second being the castle’s spectacular Renaissance gardens. The Villandry château’s gardens attract more visitors than its interior, as it is a truly novel sight in France. Before becoming a member of François I’s court, Le Breton was the French ambassador for Italy. There, he spent most of his time studying the Italian Renaissance art of gardening. He brought this knowledge back home with him and created the original Villandry gardens as he constructed the castle. The gardens were quite a sight, divided into four distinct sections- the garden of the sun (a meadow filled with lime trees), the water garden (with a centralised pool, surrounded by lime trees), the ornamental gardens (lined with hedges and flowerbeds that depict the various facets of love) and the kitchen garden (vegetables planted in a colour co-ordinated manner). Unfortunately, a significant portion of the original gardens were destroyed in the 19th century to make way for a traditional English garden. However, much restoration efforts were invested in the gardens when its 20th century owner, Joachim Carvallo, took over. He poured his money and efforts into restoring the original Renaissance arrangement of the Villandry gardens, leading way to creating its current ensemble. Today, the Villandry castle’s gardens remain close to the original, maintaining its artistic and inviting nature with old mazes and vineyards as well. Try to fix your visit to the castle between April and October, as this is when the gardens are in bloom.

Don’t forget to pop by the castle, as it also comprises of interesting sights such as its luxurious 18th century interiors, a Spanish Gallery (contributed by Carvallo) and a stunning Oriental Room, which comes complete with a 15th century Toledo ceiling.  






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CHÂTEAUS NEAR TOURS:   1. Château d’Useé  2. Château de Langeais  3. Chateau de Villandry  4. Château d’Azay-Le-Rideau  5. Château de Chenonceau