5 Incredible Gardens of France
Coming up with a shortlist of Franceâ€™s most beautiful gardens and parks is not the easiest thing to do. The French Ministry of Culture recognizes almost 1,300 gardens and designates over 200 as â€œremarkableâ€. Though scant few Medieval and Renaissance gardens survive, France still boasts an impressive numbers of Baroque gardens and small original gardens that attract visitors from across the globe.
The Gardens of ChÃ¢teau de Courances
Home to one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe, ChÃ¢teau de Courances was built in the late 16th century near the spectacularly scenic forest of Fontainebleau. The palace’s 77 hectare park feature canals, cascades, sculptures and even a typical Japanese garden.
Claude Monetâ€™s Garden of Giverny
A magnificent garden in the Eure department of northern France provides visitors with a singular opportunity to commune with one of the most famous artists of all time.
Claude Monet first saw Giverny through the window of a train. Immediately hit by inspiration, the master Impressionist moved his rather large brood to a modest home in town. Years later, the artist was comfortable enough to purchase and expand the property’s gardens significantly. Monet’s Giverny home as it stands today is divided up into two gardens: a flower garden and Japanese-inspired water garden. While not a typical Japanese garden per se, the latter definitely evokes Monet’s love of controlled nature – a feature quite common in French formal gardens as well. Over half a million people visit Giverny’s most famous attraction every year.
Garden of ChÃ¢teau de Villandry
Originally built as a fortress, ChÃ¢teau de Villandry ultimately evolved into one of the most famous manors of the Loire Valley – for which it shares UNESCO World Heritage honours. The stately chÃ¢teau certainly boasts one of the most venerable and beautiful gardens in France. Laid out as a three-level Renaissance garden, Villandry is partitioned in three: a water garden, ornamental garden and kitchen garden, or potager. The water garden dominates the upper level, with a grand pool and beautiful fountains, while the ornamental garden features landscaped box hedges. The kitchen garden, at the bottom, is a decidedly carefree herb and vegetable garden.
Gardens of Versailles
Probably the most famous backyard in the world, the former Domaine royal de Versailles forms a lavish and pure expression of French landscape formalism. Designed by AndrÃ© Le NÃ´tre, in collaboration with King Louis XIV and his advisers, the UNESCO World Heritage Gardens of Versailles span more than 1 km2 – a challenge for anyone to cover in one visit. The Sun King went to great lengths to pump water from the Seine and Eure all the way to Versailles, but the amazing fountains that now dominate the gardens were fully worth the effort. Combined with the elegant architecture and opulent interior of the palace, the gardens make Versailles one of the must-see man-made wonders of the world.
The truly remarkable garden of Manoir dâ€™Eyrignac is just 15 km from the popular (and adorable) Aquitaine tourist town of Sarlat-la-CanÃ©da. The handsome Dordogne department property has been handed down from generation to generation for 500 years. The manor’s gardens however, did not take shape until the 18th century. Now over 4 hectares, the gardens of d’Eyrignac contain brilliant hedge-work, fountains, sculptures and a modest collection of flowers and plants. Above all else, this is a premier archetype of a topiary garden.