Château de Villandry
Villandry is the last of the great Renaissance chateaux built in the Loire Valley.
It is not only trusted name for the beauty of its architecture and interior decoration, but also for its magnificent gardens.
The chateau, gardens and park are indeed registered in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Villandry was built under the reign of Francois I, the great patron of the French Renaissance.
The king admired the exquisite beauty of the Italian Renaissance architecture, which he discovered during his military campaigns.
This elegant and refined style was in total rupture with the heavy French Military architecture of the time.
The king built several chateaux in the Loire Valley.
Chambord, his dream-chateau, is considered a masterpiece of the French Renaissance.
In 1532, Jean Le Breton, the Finance Minister, followed in the king’s steps.
He pulled down the old feudal fortress of Villandry, in order to build the current chateau.
However, he kept the dungeon which had been the theatre of the signature of the Peace of Colombiers.
In this treaty of July 4, 1189, Henry II of England conceded defeat to Philippe-Auguste.
Villandry remained in the family of Jean Le Breton until 1754, when the Marquis de Castellane (the Ambassador of King Louis XV) acquired it.
Castellane engaged in an extensive series of modifications in order to update and improve the comfort of the chateau.
However, the neo-Classical architectural alterations (although aesthetic and of quality) denatured the elegant Renaissance character of the building and gardens.
All changed in 1906.
Indeed, Dr. Joachim Carvallo and his wife Ann Coleman, the heiress of a major American steelmaker dynasty, purchased Villandry.
They devoted their entire life, energy and fortune in restoring the chateau and its garden to their original beauty.
Their descendants took over.
Their great-grand-son, Henri Carvallo, is the current owner.
He looks after the marvelous chateau and gardens of Villandry, which opened to the public in 1929.
The various owners redesigned the gardens of Villandry several times over the centuries.
In 1906, the chateau stood in a landscaped garden nestled in a forest of exotic trees and bushes planted in the 19th century.
Joachim Carvallo endeavoured to recreate the Renaissance gardens in order to showcase and match the building.
With the thoroughness and precision of the scientist that he was, he strove to recreate the minor details, shapes and essence of a traditional Renaissance garden.
Archaeological excavations and various land registries enabled him to find the lay-out of the chateau’s Renaissance, 18th century and 19th century gardens.
His descendants share the same passion and love for Villandry and have taken over his restoration work.
Villandry gardens spread over four terraces.
They include Le Jardin du Soleil (Sun Garden), Jardin d’Ornement (Ornamental Garden), Jardin d’Eau (Water Garden), Le Potager Décoratif (Vegetable Garden) and Jardin des Simples (Medicinal Herbs Garden).
In 2008 Henri Carvallo commissioned the renowned landscape gardener Louis Benech in order to create (from Joachim’s original drawing) Le Jardin du Soleil on a former meadow delineated by a lime trees hedge.
This garden is located on the upper terrace.
It includes La Chambre des Enfants (a recreational area for children), La Chambre du Soleil (with a central star-shaped pond) and La Chambre des Nuages, an area with grassy alleys winding among rose bushes and shrubs.
The Andalusian painter Lozano and the landscaper Javier Winthuysen created Le Jardin des Ornements, also known as Jardin des Broderies.
This Andalusia inspired garden consists of four smaller Jardins de l’Amour delineated by boxwood and yews topiary.
You’ll find L’Amour Tendre (Tender Love) – L’Amour Passionné (Passionate Love) – L’Amour Volage (Fickle Love) and L’Amour Tragique (Tragic Love).
Le Jardin d’Eau is a traditional 18th century garden, recreated from the Marquis de Castellane’s gardens.
This Classical style garden is encompassed within a hedge of lime trees and focuses on a central pond shaped as a Louis XV mirror.
Le Potager Décoratif is a genuine Renaissance garden.
It consists of nine identical square bed where flowers and vegetable grow side by side.
However, each bed has a different selection of plants.
The Vegetable Garden has been fully organic way since 2009.
Finally, Robert and Marguerite Carvallo created Le Jardin des Simples in 1970.
This garden, originally designed by Joachim Carvallo, is a faithful recreation of a medieval garden.
Department of Indre-et-Loire – Touraine
Coordinates: Lat 47.339853 – Long 0.514315