Friday, June 30, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry VII (Gardens)

The Château of Villandry, in the Centre Val de Loire region, is a Renaissance château especially known for its beautiful gardens. 

Keen on architecture, Jean Le Breton was also interested in the art of gardening. 
Times had changed. 
Feudal fortresses made way for delicate chateaux, 
ramparts became walls which now allowed one to gaze out over the surrounding landscape, 
the enclosed, utilitarian gardens of the Middle Ages made way for ornamental gardens, 
in a gentle transition between the house and its natural setting. 
Villandry was no exception to the new fashion. 
At the foot of the chateau, overlooking the River Cher, gardens were laid 
and their splendor already earned the estate a reputation outside the Loire Valley.

The acquisition of Villandry by Joachim Carvallo marked a return to their roots for the gardens. 
Already known for their beauty in the Renaissance, different owners successively transformed them, 
now into a formal garden, now a romantic garden. 
With a scientist’s meticulousness, Carvallo recreated gardens that were worthy of the restored chateau.

Ever since the construction of the Chateau of Villandry in 1532, outstanding gardens have embellished the building. 
The passage of time and changing fashions meant they underwent drastic changes in appearance. 
Archeological findings tell us how, in the Renaissance, there was a decorative kitchen garden at close proximity to the chateau.
In the 18th century, the grounds were enlarged and enriched with a formal garden, 
then an ornamental lake in the shape of a Louis XV mirror. 

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry VI (The Interior)

Villandry is one of the great chateaux built on the banks of the Loire during the Renaissance.

With its unique furnishings, décor and atmosphere, the Château de Villandry is a living testimony of French heritage. 

When Jean Le Breton acquired the Villandry estate, the building was a Medieval fortress. 
The defensive architecture was pared down, opened up and enhanced with elements of Renaissance décor. 

In the 18th century, the Marquis de Castellane moved into Villandry and made some major changes 
to transform the building into a warm, bright and comfortable home that reflected the art of living at that time. 

By the end of the 19th century the estate had fallen into disuse 
and was saved from dereliction by Joachim Carvallo and Ann Coleman, 
who in turn undertook a campaign of restoration to return it to its Renaissance state. 

Henri Carvallo, the current owner of Villandry, is following in the footsteps of his ancestors 
by both preserving this unique heritage site and opening it up for visitors to enjoy.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry V (Gardens)

When Joachim Carvallo visited Villandry in 1906, he found: 
"The grounds [are] landscaped in the English style, all undulations and hillocks (…), 
planted with a good many recently imported exotic species – cedars, pines, thujas, magnolias – 
set in clumps on the slopes of artificial mounds. 
The chateau itself [is lost] in a forest of trees and greenery."

Vegetables and flowers, scents and savours, calmness and energy, tranquillity and effervescence… 
the Château de Villandry unveils its remarkable gardens and smells.

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry IV (The Ornamental Garden)

Like an extension of the interior salons, the Ornamental Garden is itself divided into salons of greenery. 

Closest to the chateau is the first salon, composed of four beds. 
In the Andalusian style, its plant structure traces geometric shapes to form the “Love Gardens”.

Climbing up to the belvedere will give you the opportunity to enjoy a magnificent view of the entire Garden of Love, 
divided into four sections: tender love, passionate love, fickle love, tragic love.

Tender Love is symbolized by the hearts separated by flames of love in the corners of the square. 
At the center are masks which were worn at balls to conceal the face, 
enabling their wearers to engage in all sorts of conversation, from the most serious to the most light-hearted.

Passionate Love: Still hearts, but this time they are broken out of passion. 
The clumps of box are entangled to form a maze, further evoking the dance and whirlwind of passion.

Flighty Love: The four fans in the corners symbolize the fickleness of the sentiments. 
Between the fans are the horns representing betrayed love and, in the center, the love letters and sweet notes exchanged by lovers. 
The predominant colour in this square is yellow, the symbol of betrayed love.

Lastly, Tragic Love: The designs represent the blades of daggers and swords used in duels caused by amorous rivalry. 
In summer, the flowers are red to symbolize the blood shed in these combats.

On the left, in the center: a design easily recognizable as the Maltese Cross. 
Behind this cross, to the right, is the Cross of Languedoc and, to the left, the Basque Cross. 
Lastly are the highly stylized fleur-de-lys lining the moat.