The Garden of France: Landscaped Perfection in Villandry

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The Loire Valley is often referred to as the Garden of France. This is primarily due to the area’s superb soil for growing all kinds of vegetables and fruits, including wine grapes. However, the term could also refer to the collection of magnificent landscaped grounds that surround the sumptuous villas and châteaux dotting the countryside.

One look at the gardens of Villandry and it’s easy to imagine French aristocrats during the 18th century parading around in their silk finery. Occasionally they may stop to smell the flowers or sit on a bench to gossip as they read passages from one of Marquis de Sade’s racy novels.

Today, a mini-army of 10 gardeners toils to keep these gardens immaculate. When we were there the intricately patterned hedges appeared to be perfectly even in shape and height. As we strolled through the colorful mazes, we could easily believe one of the dedicated green thumbs walked around surreptitiously snipping anything that dared to grow a millimeter too tall or wide.

If you enjoyed this story in our series, we invite you to check out our travel books that use our theme, A Picture Is Worth 1,000 characters. Each impression features an original photo and a story that’s exactly 1,000 characters long.