In a small valley where a stream runs through, there is a plateau with a viewpoint where you will enjoy a superb overview of the two gardens with the extraordinary beauty of Villandry Castle.
To get to this place with these views, you have to climb up zigzagging ramps in the gardens themselves or through the main entrance, up to the stairs inside the castle.
When you reach the top of the garden, you will be amazed at the beauty, the colours, the vitality and the geometry of the gardens. You will feel that you are in paradise, here on the earth.
Villandry last buyer proposed restoring the original gardens, inspired by a book in which the author described the details of the gardens of the most beautiful mansions in France in all luxury. Finally, he concluded his studies with excavations that uncovered the relics of the first gardens. His total dedication made it possible to create one of the most splendid gardens in France.
The French gardens were born during the Italian Renaissance and had their heyday thanks to the French royalty´s patronage, characterized by an exquisite style.
As we can see from our privileged position, symmetrical and geometric flower beds form a decorative ensemble of multicoloured plants and flowers beautifully decorated. The gardens are divided by streets perfectly delimited by stones or shrubs rigorously cut symmetrically.
The canal, the waterfall and the fountains also give a romantic touch.
The gardens extend the castle, illustrating the ideal of measure and proportion so striking in the Renaissance. But its primary purpose is delighting and having pleasure. Here the esthetic has an important role. Analyze yourself! An image is worth a thousand words. And when you are up there, you will be speechless as your eyes process all the beauty that lies in front of you!
We must not forget that the gardens are designed for the owner´s greatest glory.
More than one thousand lemon trees bordering the gardens create a sense of isolation in time as if we were in an imaginary place.
3 Rue Principal, Villandry (3 Principal St. )
Open from 9. 00 a. m to 7. 00 p. m
STRAIGHT FROM THE GARDEN TO THE PAN!
Villandry´s castle garden produces its vegetables and grows up to forty different types of vegetables. More and more, the techniques are ecological, respecting and caring for the environment. The "bio" products avoid using chemical products, and therefore they are considered healthier and tastier.
From the garden direct to the kitchen, the products maintain their freshness and lightness.
We certainly recommend some vegetables because they will always benefit your health and reaffirm how tasty they are.
We are going to suggest you an excellent vegetable-based snack: Vegetable quiche.
The quiche is one of the most diverse and creative French specialities that can stand out in international gastronomy. It is a savoury pie based on whipped egg and cream. In France, it has been proven that it was a dish served at kings and nobles´ tables.
Historically it was a famous and straightforward pie that was permitted during fast times. It became more popular as bacon bits were added, sometimes by adding leeks, onions, and rye flour. Cheese has become indispensable, and a science magazine advised it for headaches and stomach aches.
In Alfred Hitchcock´s series :
"To catch a thief", we see Gary Grant sharing a quiche with another protagonist, who comments:
-"It is a Lorraine quiche. You will like it! "
- "Lorraine quiche? I´ve heard about it, but I´ve never tried it. "
- "Mmmm, very good, the dough is very light. "
- "Yes, my wife Germaine has the most delicate hands and touch. "
- "Oh yeah, I agree".
The director was a great quiche lover.
The book "Real men don´t eat quiche" trivializes the dish and is a satire on male stereotypes. While those who ate quiche were "cowards", the real men drink beer. With this parody, the quiche emerged victoriously and strengthened, while the author fell into oblivion.
You will find the vegetarian quiche in the same snack bar in the castle.
When you finish visiting the castle gardens, you will be delighted and for sure wishing to have a small piece of this garden at home. Your dreams will come true. You can buy pumpkin seeds to plant in your vegetable garden or plant them on your balcony at the castle store.
There are more than a hundred kinds of pumpkins, but the ones sold in the store are the three kinds most used for cooking.
The "Potimarron" pumpkin, with its orange colour, is ideal for making sweets and cookies. The "Patisson" pumpkin is used for creams and purées is very tasty. The original idea is to serve the meal itself in the empty pumpkin. Generally, they are black and white.
The "Turbante" pumpkin alternates white and orange colours and is eaten fried or stuffed.
Besides, all kinds of pumpkins are used as decoration.
You will certainly know that at Halloween time (another party, if you think there are few), the pumpkins are cut to look like a sinister character. It is a North American custom, but it originated in Ireland.
According to legend, Jack, who drank and gambled, met the devil, who had come to take his soul to rehabilitation or in hell instead of asking forgiveness.
Jack, feeling himself lost, to gain time, asked the devil for one last wish: to take his last slip. And the devil accepted. (What a nice devil! ).
Everything indicates that the devil has become a currency coin to pay the expenses. By putting the coin in his pocket, where he kept a cross, Jack annulled the devil´s power and only left him out when he promised to forgive his threat. (I forgot to mention that Jack was also a swindler).
When Jack died, the heaven gates were closed to him due to his bad behaviour in life, and the hell gates were closed as well because the devil was taking revenge. He was forced to wander through eternity with the help of illuminated coal he carried inside a notched turnip.
In time Anglo-Saxon countries used illuminated turnips and hollow potatoes as a lantern to scare away evil spirits. In the United States, they began using an original fruit: the pumpkin.
CASTLE “A LA FRANÇAISE”!
What is most spectacular about Villandry is the mix of the medieval tower encrusted inside a sumptuous palace and contemplating its exquisitely white façades and the slate roof reflected in the moat. Galleries with arcades, framed windows surrounded by lavishly decorated pilasters, high skylights with carved profiles adorn a courtyard of honour of extraordinary and elegant proportions.
The result is a simple yet refined style purely French.
The last buyers were a doctor and disciple of a Nobel prize-winning physician and his wife, a wealthy American industrial heiress. The doctor abandoned his promising career and, together with his wife, dedicated theirselves body and soul to recover and restore the then abandoned Villandry Castle.
When Dr Carvalho heard about the castle owned by the finance minister and ambassadors of kings and even belonged to Napoleon´s brother, he became very interested. The building itself was in a deplorable state, and it was in a real tangle of vegetation in the middle of a forest. But Dr Carvalho liked the castle and thought the price was not exaggerated, so he closed the purchase immediately. Two days later, the previous owner died. When the new owner was moving into this new place and was about to arrive in Villandry to take over the renovations, he was somewhat daunted by the amount of work he still had to do. It was a long and arduous task for the happy buyer!
With the architectural changes over the centuries, the castle had lost its essence. With hundred of workers´ help, the proposal was to return it with its initial configuration and with all its splendour.
With the first transformations, the effect was surprising. Within a week, Villandry had recovered its original aspect, looking more like a Renaissance palace. The new owner invited members of the Archeological Society of the region. They were used to seeing this castle covered with false windows, which gave it the monotonous and sad appearance of a barracks. These members were amazd. They could not believe what they were seeing. They thought that with a simple flick of a magic wand, the castle had been rebuilt again!
3, Rua Principal, Villandry (3, Pricipal St. )
Open from 9. 00a. m to 7. 00p. m.
SOME NICE TENANTS!
Villandry Castle´s originality lies in its innovative architectural design and the use of the site itself. A unique building was constructed in full harmony with nature and the stone itself.
This privileged situation has been taken advantage of by some creatures, who are feared by many for lack of knowledge. These creatures are rejected, but many people are mistaken about them.
Hidden and well sheltered due to shyness, they are already patrimony part of our sumptuous residence.
Every year, between April and October, Villandry Castle hosts a bats colony. Besides, the castle is collaborating on a scientific project. Fragile and protected, the bats are observed and watched through infrared cameras, which collect information to find more details about this species. Overall, the program itself makes the general public aware of the importance of this species and its preservation.
The bat is a nocturnal mammal. Its wing is a modified hand, with enlarged fingers that support
a thin, flexible and elastic membrane, which allows it to rise through the air. Besides protecting them when they are landed, these wings cover them as if they were an insulating layer.
They orient themselves like a kind of radar. "They see with their ears" and hunt thanks to their keen sense of smell.
Bats spend most of their lives hanging from their mouths.
Its weight exerts a pull on the tendons that keeps its claws in the hook, stomping without expending energy.
Bats´ activities last from March to October when insects increase, which they feed themselves on.
Bats consume several insects daily, which is equal to half of their weight. They are true allies
against insects and parasites. Also, they are considered an excellent natural insecticide
because they prevent the soil from being poisoned and the water from containing insecticides and other chemical products.
In Springtime, the pregnant females seek quiet and refuge such as the top floors and the roof of our castle. They give birth in May and raise their young until August when little bats become independent. The male usually lives only during this period.
They mate, huddle together during the Fall, and thus accumulate fat and calorie reserves for the winter period. Consequently, they can face a long period of fasting. Bats hibernate in quiet subterranean places with mild temperature and high humidity.
3 Rue Principal, Villandry(3 Principal St. )
Open from 9. 00a. m to 7. 00p. m
GOING UP TO THE HILL!
As an exercise, we will propose a physical test: climb to the top of the hill next to the gardens. It is a leafy forest that is 30 meters high(98, 4252ft. ). The access is in the gardens themselves.
The trees scattered all over the surface give a fairy-tale look and image. Besides, it is an ideal place to recuperate your energies to going up.
It is a good place for walking in the wilderness, where you will have a different perspective of the gardens instead of domesticated nature.
When you reach the top, you will see the small population of Villandry. This name had its origin
from the name given to the ancient Roman colony "Andriaca Village". However its inhabitants are known as colombiens or colombiennes which has its origin from the word that the civilization was known during Middle Ages, Colombiers.
Nestled in the valley with the largest river in the centre of France, the kings chose this place to settle. The architectural wealth concentrated in this region made it a World Heritage Site. The splendorous gardens built in this region earned the area the nickname "Gardens of France".
From the beautiful view of the Villandry rooftops, the church stands out, where the remains of the Villandry Castle´s promoter and architect are buried. Villandry Castle is one of the eighty French Renaissance castles that form part of the "Loire Castles".
Joachim Carvalho came from a bourgeois family from Extremadura, Spain. He studied in Paris until he decided to dedicate himself to beautifying his castle and gardens. He was also a collector and managed to put together a very valuable collection of paintings displayed in the court.
Joachim is the creator of "Historical Mansions", an association that gathers owners of monuments and private historic buildings to defend and save the architectural, historical, artistic, natural heritage and its surroundings. Joachim Carvalho is also pioneer in opening this heritage to the general public.
Joachim´s heirs, his three great-grandchildren, continue maintaining the castle and the gardens with the same passion and dedication, thus retaining the family element.
3, Rue Principal, Villandry (3, Principal St. )
Open from 9. 00a. m to 7. 00p. m
Villandry castle stands out among many other palaces in France for its spectacular gardens. Probably Villandry Gardens are the most impressive ones in France.
It was the scene of peace between two of the most powerful kingdoms in Medieval Europe in its early days. The King of England´s signature acknowledging his defeat by the King of France marked the hostilities beginning between the two kingdoms, culminating in the Hundred years war.
The rivalry began when a sure Henry inherited from his father extensive fiefdoms in the northwest and part of central France. When the King got married to Leonor, these dominions were joined by the entire southwest and many central France. Leonor had recently ended her marriage to the King of France, who had repudiated her and could not inherit Leonor´s lands. The King of France was very blessed, besides being naive, clumsy, indecisive and not very energetic. Leonor was just the opposite:she was ambitious, vigorous and with a lot of character. If the King of France did not have descendants with Leonor, she would have eight children with Henry. Thus, Henry started to have more lands in France than the King of France himself.
At that moment, Louis, as the French King was called, tried to recover by evil what he had not achieved by good. The name Louis was the name most used by the Kings of France, up to eighteen times.
To finish adding to his dominions, Henry inherited England´s crown from his maternal grandfather. Therefore all Henry´s possessions in France passed to English sovereignty.
The new hostilities between the kingdoms were led by the new King of France, Phillip, the unhappy King of France´s son. Philip
Phillip took advantage of the tensions between Henry´s sons over the Empire inheritance, associating himself with some sons, acting against his father. Philip would recover part of Henry´s territories, thus beginning the English sovereignty´s decline in France.
Did you know that one of Henry´s sons allied with King Philip against his father was Richard the Lion-Hearted himself?
Having a walk through the Villandry Garden, we will get closer to the botanical perfection and the beauty that man can create with nature.
The gardens are divided into three levels. We will begin by the ones near the lookout located on the back of the castle. They are the Decorative Gardens. These, in turn, are divided into two levels. The inferior ones or the First Hall is split into four dedicated to love:
The tender love that are hearts separated by masks that are used in balls.
The passionate love that are hearts broken by passion is exposed dynamically as if were a ball.
The fleeting love, illustrated by moth wings evoking the lightness of feeling.
The tragic love draws threads from the swords employed in the duels provoked by love rivalries. The red roses remind the spilled blood.
The next level up is the Second Hall, with a very lyrical decoration as we can see in the sculptures of musical notes, lyres or in the wood carved in the shape of chandeliers that illuminate the musical scores.
The Water Garden is on the upper level and is a lake with a water mirror in classical style. It culminates in a waterfall that feeds a canal through the gardens and ends on a small island where huge fishes entertain the curious and the visitors.
Also, on the upper level, we will find the Sun Garden with its star-shaped fountain. Around this garden, there are plants and shrubs of yellow and orange hues symbolizing the sun room, and the white and bluish plants symbolize the sky room.
The labyrinth is located on the side at an intermediate level. It is a magical place, the ideal place to use the imagination. It has a Christian conception:it is a place of progression where the path taken represents the path of life, which leads to the highest center area of the labyrinth, which means the encounter with God.
Following the Tilia trees at the lower level, you will arrive at the side of the yard located at the courtyard entrance.
3 Rue Principal, Villandry (3 Principal St. )
Open from 9. 00 a. m to 7. 00 p. m.
COLORS, SCENTS AND GEOMETRY!
Among all the gardens of Villandry Castle, the most beautiful is undoubtedly the vegetable garden. It has all the grace and harmony of the Renaissance gardens. It is a conception of shapes, spaces, and colours materialized, where perfection lives with the sweetness of the surroundings.
The vegetable garden is structured in boards with identical dimensions but with different motifs.
No less than 30 000 flowers and 80 000 vegetables are spread over two plantations, one in spring and summer. The result is a mosaic of plants that respond to the rhythm of the seasons. Beauty and flavor blend together, coming from a medieval tradition like the art of gardening started in the Italian Renaissance.
The vegetable garden is decorated with pergolas, fences, fountains, and the Middle Ages´ high plateaus gradually give way to the Renaissance concepts: symmetrical and geometrical flowerbeds, potted plants, gravel ground floors, sculptured shrubs, staircases, ramps and balcony like oversized balconies. You will find a traditional garden from the Middle Ages dedicated to cultivating aromatic, culinary, and medicinal plants in one of these balconies.
This place is like a dream, a natural home that looks like a fairy tale.
If the medieval vegetable garden is designed to feed or heal, the Italian garden requires the spirit of measure, proportion and rigor. We went from a horticultural conception to an architectural one, and it is as if we had to leap in time.
The gardeners´ virtues can make art with simple vegetables distributed according to their colours, shapes and height. Everything seems to bloom by art, magic or pure miracle. Every vegetable, flower, and even stone is perfect and perfectly into the garden spaces. Villandry vegetable garden presents harmony and beauty. The leeks´ bluish colour, the cabbage and beets, and the jade green of the carrot leaves create a multicoloured tray.
The vegetable garden origin dates back to the Middle Ages when monks in abbeys grew their vegetables by creating geometric shapes in a cross.
The rose bushes are a tribute to these gardeners, symbolizing them as they tilled the soil.
3, Rue Principal, Villandry (Principal St. )
Open from 9. 00 a. m to 7. 00 p. m
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