Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Villandry visit

As they say, you don't know what you've got till it's (almost) gone. Or, more accurately, you don't bother to get off your arse to see it until your time is running out. I have so much to do between now and mid-September that I won't have many opportunities to tick any last "must-see" sights off my Loire Valley checklist, but one thing I managed this Saturday was to finally get to the château of Villandry, just 20 minutes away from Tours and renowned for its lovely gardens.

I'm not especially in love with gardens, but the rumours are true, they are beautiful. Although much of the gardens tend towards the formal, geometric layouts, there are also sections of more "natural" (although no doubt carefully planned and tended) sections to enjoy. The château itself is not exceptional, but the entry ticket to the château and gardens is not much more expensive than the gardens alone, and probably worth it for no other reason than you get to climb up into the tower and get a c. 300° view of the gardens. The weather forecast said partly cloudy, which actually just meant scatterings of fluffy white clouds, all the better for pretty photographs, and temperatures which were nice and warm without being oppressive.

And, since it was so close and I was up and out bright and early, I was back in time for lunch, with plenty of time to clean my flat, make my famous potato salad, and head to Liz's new flat for a barbecue dinner!

I'd love to get to Chambord as well before I leave, but I'm not sure I'll have time to. But in any case, I'm sure Tours hasn't seen the last of me! The countdown to leaving is a good reminder to look about myself and appreciate where I am. I try not to forget that there are plenty of people who dream their whole lives of seeing the châteaux of the Loire Valley, and I've been very fortunate to live in such a lovely part of the world and visit many of them (although I sometimes have a sneaking suspicion that there are people out there who came for a week and managed to see more!)

Anyway, I'll leave you with a few of my photos... (PS which, looking back at them, are strangely empty of people. Some of the formal gardens are not open for walking about in, for the rest I suppose just luck. I definitely wasn't all alone there, although I suppose the size of the grounds and the fact that I was in and out before lunchtime cut down on the crowds!)




Can almost pretend I took a break in the lavender fields of Provence


The "cross"garden



The love gardens, representing the stages of love from passion, romance, flirting (?) to jealousy



Love hearts





A beautiful ceiling salvaged from a Spanish palace - there are three others like it scattered around the world




The kitchen gardens



8 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photos! And you're looking good, too :) xx

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    1. Thanks! Don't usually do the "hold the camera at arm's length" thing cos I think it is waaaay too close up to look any good, but they turned out okay!

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  2. So Flirting comes in the middle, not at the beginning? Does that mean it's the flirting that leads to Jealousy?

    I'm not a huge fan of walking through French gardens as they're often so formal and there isn't enough grass, but I love looking down on the intricate designs like the ones in your photos.

    On a side note, don't you think it's hilarious how in France "jardin anglais" is shorthand for "we let everything run a bit wild"?

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    1. To be honest, the love hearts were explained during the guided tour I did, but I'm terrible at remembering the details so don't read too much into that!

      I actually worked for a little while in a specialist library for landscape architecture and picked up a thing or two... I think that historically speaking, it was English landscape architects who introduced a more naturalistic style in to Europe in the 18th C, as opposed to the formal French gardens, so for once it's not just the French having a dig at the English :)

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  3. It is breathtaking! I wouldn't say I'm a huge garden fan either but I wouldn't mind visiting those :)

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    1. You know, you're the only person whose blog comments go through to my main Gmail inbox (mine included!) What sorcery is this? ;)

      They are very pretty, pleased it was a lovely day and the photos came out well!

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  4. "The French having a dig at the English" - time you took some gardening leave m'dear!

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    1. Ha, wasn't even going for a pun there!

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