Revisiting the Extraordinary Villandry




Looking through the 556 pictures of my bicycling in the Loire valley I decided to break apart a multi- faceted trip into small stories —otherwise I could be accused of doing the longest blog post in the history of posting and probably bore you all to death in the process. I don’t want this to take on the tiresome aspect of looking through the boring “how I spent my family vacation” photos. That said I know many of you are aware of or have seen renaissance garden at Villandry but as it had been at least 20 years since I was last there I wanted to share some of my new insights about this famous place.

While I am a “flower girl”at heart I also have a great affection for the vegetable garden or as the French call it the “potager”. I have such fond memories of going to the kitchen garden with my grandmother Beaty and I have always felt a tremendous sense of well being and self sufficiency, when I am in my own garden “patch”. I followed the simple layout of rows of plants just as had been done at my grandmothers farm but after seeing Villandry, I looked at that type of garden in a very different way…vegetables and fruits needed no longer to be in regimental rows but could form designs and patterns that could be as elaborate as any grand parterre or English flower border. Now while I have a scant 1/2 acre of “edible garden “and Villandry is massive, I started trying to design with my veggies and herbs, mixing them with flowers creating my own tapestry of a vegetable garden.



The view from the rooftop of the chateau

It was lovely to return to that wonderful garden and to have the good fortune to go through it with the grandson of the man who recreated and also reinterpreted the original concept of the renaissance garden. What was really exciting and something I had not done before was to go with Henri Cavello on to the roof top of the chateau and see Villandry from that perspective —a totally different experience from merely seeing it at eye level. I could go into the history of the place but it is easy to look up on line and I shall merely tell you about my experience in the garden. Most renaissance gardens have three levels often the lowest level is the potager representing the earthly appetite moving up to the second tier of parterres which represents forms of courtly love and the topmost level the water garden dedicated to the spirit or the soul. To this third level Henri has worked with the landscape gardener Louis Benech to create two new gardens I only have photos of the Garden of the Sun ( can’t seem to find the other garden). At the center of sun garden is a lovely water basin that looks a bit like a radiating sun and then all the plantings are in shades of oranges, yellows and chartreuse. Very pretty and a nice addition to the strict formality of the rest of the garden.


The potager in spring. During the summer different kales and lettuces’ will be added.


This is the garden of different stages of courtly love. All of the spring bulbs had just been pulled as the garden transitions to summer. But I actually like it all green as well.


The same garden but with a broader view showing the third or spiritual garden above


Here one can see the three tiers of the garden


Henri Carvallo, the grandson of the creator of Villandry gardens Dr. Joachim Carvallo.
Henri’s obvious pride and enjoyment at being this generations “caretaker” of this magical place is evident. He and Louis Benech added two wonderful garden to the original plan.


A close up of the garden of courtly love….just love all that boxwood there are miles of it….can you imagine how long that takes to clip!


The water garden


I always marvel at things like this…. how do you suppose they mow that wonderful slope?



This is the new (planted in 2008) garden of the sun. The basin is the sun and the radiating rays are the beds of reds, yellows and oranges, at least that is my interpretation.


Shades of red and oranges poppies





A slightly lower view of the potager—at any vantage point the garden is amazing


I liked this little corner detail


The deep red of the lettuce is so fabulous against all that vibrant green.


Two important notes; Villandry has officially gone organic in the last couple of years. And the food is not wasted but shared with the community when it is time to pull the lettuces before they bolt.



Hope you enjoyed Villandry coming next another beautiful garden and then next weeks preparations for a summer dinner at Weatherstone

19 thoughts on “Revisiting the Extraordinary Villandry

  1. Wow,this is definitely on my list of places I MUST visit.I will incorporate it with my trip to Normandy in September.
    Thank you so much for the wonderful photos.

  2. Have been to Villandry a while back. Think the on going attention, care and love of these gardens is astonishing. Thank you for current photographs. So incredibly beautiful.
    Lynn Ziglar

  3. So glad to hear they have gone organic. When I last visited (2006) the lettuce & cabbage were flowering and I thought it was a huge wast of food.. Stunning & gorgeous of course but the wast bothered me.


  4. Incredible photos, how beautifully green! What are the open corner structures, a partially shaded area?
    Would love to add this spot to a cycling trip. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photographs! I feel as though I’ve been on vacation! Love, love the poppies. My husband’s uncle always had poppies in his sidewalk garden in Telluride, CO and the colors were always so bright and happy.

  6. Wonderful pictures. After that preview, I want to see all 556 pictures and I bet I’m not alone!!!

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience of a very beautiful place. I had the opportunity to spend a number of hours here a few years ago and feel I’ve revisited. As you say the view from the rooftop puts it all into perspective, you can’t quite get that feeling on the ground. Also had a very nice lunch there and apart from the amazing gardens there’s also the interior of the Chateau itself. A beautiful, beautiful place!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing. Although I visit France/Paris every year, I haven’t seen Villandry in ten years.
    Beautiful photos too!


  9. They tie a rope to the handle of the lawn mower and haul it up and down.

  10. One of my most very favorite travel experiences was when I had an extended stay in the Loire Valley, while polishing my French language skills in the charming city of Tours. I had the opportunity to visit many of the enchanting châteaux in the area, including Villandry. I have such fond memories of regal, spectacular settings amidst the most perfect early summer weather. It was sheer nirvana!

  11. This was an extraordinarily pleasant selection of photos, Carolyne. Thank you so much for posting them and for your discerning eye and wonderful descriptions of a truly marvelous place. How lucky you were to have the grandson of the founder there with all his enthusiasm, background and information. I think you should do another book with these pictures. I look forward to more being posted. Thanks so much !

  12. You give an inestimable gift to everyone!! Your eye; your taste!

    All of it! A HUGE gift! Thank you for spreading beautiful taste throughout the world!


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