At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Renaissance blossomed in shades of green. Humanistic thought placed man at the centre of the universe, no longer subject to nature, he could at last master and build his environment. The châteaux open onto the landscape, and their lands, hitherto cultivated for food, were integrated into the architectural scope of the estates.
The first leisure gardens
Under the influence of the Italian monk Dom Pacello, hosted by King Charles VIII, the first garden planted uniquely for the pleasure of its owner was built at Château-Gaillard in Amboise. It is composed with relief, vertical features and varying colours. Inspired by the ancient gardens of Babylon, they descend the slopes to clear the perspectives, punctuated with fountains, mazes and surprising grottos.
The gardens of the royal Château de Blois, disappeared, as urbanisation encroached on the land. They once offered a place of rest, recollection and entertainment. At Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci lived his last years, the contemporary gardens reflect the techniques of the master, and an exhibition can be visited.
The classic French garden
The "arte del verde," dear to Dom Pacello, is constantly being reinvented by modern gardeners. Under the influence of Cartesian philosophy, the classical garden "à la française" was born in Versailles under the direction of André Le Nôtre.
Spectacular, flat and perfectly ordered, requiring enormous earthworks, this type of garden expresses the taste for theatricality of Louis XIV and the absolute power of man over nature. Its views, its fountains, its carefully pruned trees and geometric parterres retain the kings taste for games, as well as expression formal perfection in architecture.
The English garden
A flamboyant expression of the classicism of the gardens of the Loire Valley, Chambord reopened its grounds in 2017 in all their splendour. With the "English-style" garden, the 18th century reinvented man's relationship with nature, freeing the landscape from architectural rigour. Less regular, these decorated natural spaces were inspired by the romantic movement.
The new gardens of Chenonceau, created from the original drawings of the great English landscape architect of the 20th century Russel Page, bears witness to this development. Completely replanted by its owners, the botanical park of the Priory of Orchaise presents over than 2000 species from around the world, including 200 varieties of peonies, shrubs and herbs.
The gardens of Cheverny. © CJN Thierry
The gardens of Beauregard. © Blois Chambord Tourist Office
Mediterranean gardens at Amboise. © Blois Chambord...
Floral park © Parc Floral
"Jardins de l'évêché" at Blois. © © Blois Chambord...
Garden of Diane de Poitiers at Chenonceau. © DR
The Da Vinci gardens at au Clos Lucé, Amboise. © DR
The gardens of Villandry. © DR