5 Incredible Gardens of France

Coming up with a shortlist of France’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 “remarkable”. 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 Château de Courances

Home to one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe, Château 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.

Chateau de Courance - Jardin japonais (3)

Claude Monet’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.

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Giverny - The Magic of Monet's Garden 179

Garden of Château de Villandry

Originally built as a fortress, Ch̢teau de Villandry ultimately evolved into one of the most famous manors of the Loire Valley Рfor which it shares UNESCO World Heritage honours. The stately ch̢teau 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.

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Garden at Chateau de Villandry

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 Andr̩ Le N̫tre, in collaboration with King Louis XIV and his advisers, the UNESCO World Heritage Gardens of Versailles span more than 1 km2 Рa 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.

Beginning of Gardens at Versailles

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Manor d’Eyrignac

The truly remarkable garden of Manoir d’Eyrignac is just 15 km from the popular (and adorable) Aquitaine tourist town of Sarlat-la-Canéda. 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.