Gardens and Chateaux in the Western Loire Valley

  • 01 of 08

    Western Loire Valley Gardens and Chateaux

    Villandry Garden, Loire Valley
    Getty/Sylvain Sonnet

    The western end of the Loire Valley region is centered around the gorgeous riverbank cities of Blois and Tours and takes in the Loir-et-Cher and Indre-et-Loire departments. Here you'll find gracious châteaux and some wonderful gardens. Chaumont is famous both for its  white stone château overlooking the river, and for its gardens and annual international garden festival which takes place from April to October and is one of the great dates in the French garden calendar. Others are small, domestic gardens where you can chat to the owners, and don't miss the wonderful gardens belonging to Leonardo da Vinci in Amboise. This is a small selection; the local tourist offices will be able to give you more inspiration. 

    Check out the final page for my suggestions of places to stay. 

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Chaumont Chateau and Gardens in the Western Loire Valley

    chateauloirechaumont
    © Chaumont-sur-Loire

    The lovely château of Chaumont overlooks the Loire as it flows majestically far below its hilltop eyrie. Chaumont is a charming place and its extensive gardens and parklands are being continually renewed and changed. But it’s the annual International Garden Festival which is the main object of interest in the summer months.

    Each year, landscape architects and gardeners from around the world are invited to design projects around a theme. Unlike shows like Chelsea Flower Show, there's always more of a fantasy and imaginative element to the projects. In 2014 the theme is Garden of the Deadly Sins which gives plenty of scope. The Festival is a showcase for landscape and garden design with odd ideas often to the fore and you’re encouraged to walk, feel, listen, taste, see and touch the plants as you walk through.

    The Festival runs from April to October and there are always good events taking place around the festival. One of the most popular is the series called Gardens of Light, evenings when the gardens are lit up and take on a completely different feel and look.

    Information

    More Gardens in the Western Loire Valley

    Plessis Sasnières

    Parc Botanique de la Fosse

    Chateau du Rivau

    Gardens of Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce, Amboise

    Chateau de Villandry

    • Recommended hotels in the Western Loire Valley

    Also see: Gardens of the Eastern Loire Valley

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Jardin du Plessis Sasnières in the Western Loire Valley

    plessiss
    © J. Damase - CRT Centre-Val de Loire

    An English Park

    The creator of the garden, Rosamee Henrion, now shares the running with her son. Together they keep up a wonderful private garden which you come across almost -- it appears -- by chance. The garden is set in a small and secluded valley. Start above the house at the top of this delightful place, looking down over the shapes of the garden which has a lake at its heart, fed by gently flowing streams.

    The garden is a wonderful mix of formal and informal. There’s a flower garden in what was once a large walled kitchen garden that supplied the château with all its vegetables, and walks that take you through vine arbours and among small fruit trees. It’s full of flowers and plants all through the year and there's a good cafe and shop.

    Practical Information

    Le Château
    Sasnières
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 54 82 92 34
    Website
    Location: The Jardins du Plessis Sasnieres is south west of Vendome which is north west of Blois

    Open April 1 to November Thursday to Monday 10am-6pm

    Admission Adult 7.50, free for under 18 year olds.

    More Gardens in the Western Loire Valley

    Chaumont Chateau and Gardens

    Parc Botanique de la Fosse

    Chateau du Rivau

    Gardens of Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce, Amboise

    Chateau de Villandry

     

    • Recommended hotels in the Western Loire Valley

    Also see: Gardens of the Eastern Loire Valley

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Parc Botanique de la Fosse in the Western Loire Valley

    lafossegarden
    © Arboretum de la Fosse

    Ancient and Valuable Trees

    La Fosse Botanic Park is one of the oldest arboretums in France and has remained in the same family since 1751. It’s an important collection with thousands of valuable species from around the world, taking in Cedars of Lebanon to junipers as well as many varieties of climbing plants and shrubs. Like many such places, it has a three-fold purpose: conservation, experimentation and observation.

    La Fosse Arboretum is a remarkable place, full of quiet shaded paths that invite you to stroll further into the greenery. Damaged by the storms in 1996, it was re-opened to the public in 2007. It's an ideal place to take a picnic and find a good spot for lunch among the trees.

    Practical Information

    Fontaine-les-Coteaux
    Montoire-sur-le-Loir
    Loir-et-Cher
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 54 85 38 63
    Website (in French)
    La Fosse is very near Plessis Sasnieres, a few miles west of Vendome.
    Location

    Open July 1 to August 7 1.30-6.30pm

    Admission Adult 20 euros, free for children accompanied by their parents

    More Gardens in the Western Loire Valley

    Chaumont Chateau and Gardens

     

    Plessis Sasnières

    Chateau du Rivau

    Gardens of Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce, Amboise

    Chateau de Villandry

     

     

    • Recommended  hotels in the Western Loire Valley

    Also see: Gardens of the Eastern Loire Valley

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  • 05 of 08

    Chateau du Rivau in the Western Loire Valley

    rivauchat
    © V. Treney - CRT Centre-Val de Loire

    A Medieval Castle with Fairytale Gardens

    The château is a medieval castle, and very different from its neighboring stately beauties. Square and round towers, a huge keep and royal stables where you can relive the battles of the past at an audio-visual show conjure up fairy tales. But it’s the 14 different gardens that provide the magical element. The Gargantua kitchen garden has huge vegetables on a platform; the Secret Garden is a chess board of David Austin roses; Alice’s Maze conjures up Alice in Wonderland; the Enchanted Forest has all sorts of surprises in store. It’s a delightful, fun place with enough oddities to keep children of all ages interested and happy.

    Practical Information

    Le Coudray
    Lemere
    Indre-et-Loire
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 47 95 77 47
    Website

    The Château du Rivau is southwest of Tours and near Chinon.
    Location

    Open March 30 to April 30 & October 1 to November 11 10am-6pm
    May 1 to September 30 10am-7pm

    Admission to the Castle, Royal Stables and Garden: Adult 10 euros, 5 to 18 year olds 5 euros, free for under 5 years.

    More Gardens in the Western Loire Valley

     

    Chaumont Chateau and Gardens

    Plessis Sasnières

    Parc Botanique de la Fosse

    Gardens of Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce, Amboise

    Chateau de Villandry

     

    • Recommended hotels in the Western Loire Valley

    Also see: Gardens of the Eastern Loire Valley

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Gardens of Leonardo da Vinci at Clos-Luce, Amboise

    chateauloireclosluce
    © Fondation Clos-Luce

    The château was the final home of Leonardo da Vinci after he arrived in France from Italy at the invitation of François I. While the small castle is delightful (and contains models designed by the Renaissance genius), the garden and park offer something different. Walk through the green park and at certain points you can hear Leonardo’s reflections on botany, the human body, flight and more.

    The formal garden is surrounded by marshy land typical of the Loire Valley. You walk into the garden over a two-level bridge following one of Leonardo’s designs. The garden reveals more of the Renaissance figure and through clever landscaping you feel you’re walking through some of his paintings and drawings. As in the park, you pass panels and canvases, plus more sound posts.

    For details and more about the château, see Top Chateaux in the Loire Valley

    More gardens in the Western Loire Valley

    Chaumont Chateau and Gardens

    Plessis Sasnières

    Chateau du Rivau

    Parc Botanique de la Fosse

    Chateau de Villandry

     

    • Recommended hotels in the Western Loire Valley

    Also see: Gardens of the Eastern Loire Valley

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Villandry Chateau Gardens in Indre-et-Loire in the Loire Valley Region

    villandryuse
    © V. Treney - CRT Centre-Val de Loire

    Gardens Inspired by the Italian Renaissance

    Even if you prefer seeing châteaux where princes lived (and Villandry makes a wonderful visit, complete with kitchens and below the stairs views), you must leave time to see the recreated 16th-century Renaissance gardens here at Villandry.

    Stretching out in terraces away from the château, you start at the formal water garden, then walk through another five gardens. Everywhere the beds are laid out in geometric patterns, with little boxwood hedges making the dazzling shapes -- all of which have significance. Dagger shapes symbolize tragic love, as do red flowers. The pleasure garden has high box trees, pruned into hearts, butterflies and scrolls. There’s a sun garden with luxuriant displays of flower; a maze of hornbeam, a grass tennis court and an intriguing herb garden which has both medicinal and aromatic plants.

    Practical Information

    Villandry
    Indre-et-Loire
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 47 50 02 09
    Website
    Villandry is south west of Tours.
     

    Open Gardens January 1 to February 15 & November 12 to December 31 9am-5pm

    February 16 to 28 & October 27 to November 11 9am-5.30pm
    March 1 to 30 9am-6pm
    March 31 to June 30 & September 1 to 30 9am-7pm
    July 1 to August 31 9am-7.30pm
    For château hours, go to the website opening hours

    Admission Château and gardens adult 10 euros, child 8 to 18 years old 6.50 euros
    Gardens admission adult 6.5 euros, 8 to 18 years old 4 euros
    Under 8 years old free

    More gardens in the Western Loire Valley

    Chaumont Chateau and Gardens

    Plessis Sasnières

    Chateau du Rivau

    Parc Botanique de la Fosse

    Gardens of Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce, Amboise

    • Recommended hotels in the Western Loire Valley

    Also see: Gardens of the Eastern Loire Valley

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Where to Stay in the West Part of the Loire Valley

    beauvoirfront
    © Ossi Laurila

    Where to Stay

    There's plenty of choice of all sorts of accommodation in this part of the Loire Valley. The distances are not great, so you could stay for more than one night in one place and visit all the gardens in this part of France.
    • Chateau du Breuil
      23 route de Fougeres
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 54 44 20 20
      Website
      Set in wooded parkland 3 kilometers west of Cheverny, and near Chaumont for its summer garden festival, this small 18th-century chateau makes a suitably grand stay in the Loire Valley. Expect large, light-filled bedrooms and grand public spaces with fires to warm you on chilly evenings. The restaurant has a good reputation for traditional cooking and an excellent menu for 40 euros.
      Rooms run from 120 to 230 euros a night.
    • Au temps des Secrets
      Le Moulin du Pre
      Le Louroux
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 47 92 12 67
      Website
      Just six rooms, charmingly decorated in this old coaching inn which was later owned by the Marquis of Lafayette. It's just 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Tours and is open all year round.
      Rooms are from 70 euros to 240 euros, and there are menus running from 22 to 63 euros.
    • Chateau de Jallanges
      Vernou-sur-Brenne
      Vouvray
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 47 52 06 66
      Website
      After looking at all those châteaux, why not live like those princes? The 15th-century ch&circ'teau has been hugely altered over the centuries, and now has 5 chic bedrooms overlooking the private park. There's a heated outdoor pool for summer days.
      Rooms are from 150 to 190 euros.
    • Domaine de Beauvoir
      The castle-like Domaine de Beauvoir, to the west of Tours, is ideal for visiting all the gardens in the area. It’s set in a park of 350 acres, with plenty of cycling and walking on offer, plus a swimming pool.
      Domaine de Beauvoir Review
    • Stay in Blois
      If you want a city, then stay in Blois which is a delightful floral town with an impressive château. If you are there, make sure you book to see the summer nightly son-et-lumire show.
    • Guide to Blois
    • Where to Stay and Eat in Blois
    • The Chateau at Blois
    • How to Get to Blois

    Gardens in the Western Loire Valley

    • Chaumont Chateau and Gardens

      Plessis Sasnières

      Parc Botanique de la Fosse

      Chateau du Rivau

      Gardens of Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce, Amboise

      Chateau de Villandry

    • Also see: Gardens of the Eastern Loire Valley