If the Loire Valley is known as the garden of France then at Chateau Villandry we must have the garden of the Loire Valley .
and its gardens is
probably one of the most family orientated chateau within the LoireValley
in that it has a children’s maze (not terribly difficult!) and play area
as well as the chateau and gardens for the adults. If you only have time
to view a couple of chateaux on your visit to the Loire Valley make sure
this is one of them.
chateau Villandry dates from circa 1536 when it was built by one of Francois
1’s finance ministers, Jean le Breton. Le
Briton was also responsible for overseeing the construction of the royal
‘flight of fancy’ that is chateau Chambord.
The tower which looks a little out of place is all that remains of the
old fortress he demolished to make way for the chateau.
As with most chateaux the French Revolution saw Villandry
being confiscated before eventually being acquired for
Joseph Bonaparte (brother of the
Emperor) in the early 1800’s.
The chateau and gardens you see today, which combine flowers and vegetables, are courtesy of a Spaniard, Dr.Joachim
Carvallo who purchased them in 1906. He poured a great deal of time and money into the project the results of which are breathtaking, especially when viewed from the top of the tower
Villandry tries very hard to involve children in its
gardens and surroundings (question & answer book in English) and is
involved in the Loire's collective 'On the track of the Infant King'
programme. There are workshops for children a
the children’s play areas and the hornbeam labyrinth are good
places for families to relax and play.
The combined ticket for visiting the chateau and gardens is 8€ for adults (free to children under 8) and is good value for money as the inside is also well worth a look as it is beautifully decorated and very well presented.
Take a useful map from the ticket desk to help you with your visit.
There is ample free parking alongside the river and a
restaurant in front of the chateau which is both friendly and efficient. There is also a choice of restaurants in the town itself - though not a lot else!
Villandry is open all the year round and
stays open until
during July and
Tips: Visit early morning or evening to avoid the tourists !
if the day starts of cloudy take some means of providing shade for
the kids as if the weather changes there is little in the way of
natural protection within these vast gardens.
that it can be quite a walk from the car park by the river to thechateau on busy tourist days.