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The gardens at Villandry or those at La Chatonniére

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Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:18 AM
  #1
ESW
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The gardens at Villandry or those at La Chatonniére

The gardens at Villandry are on all the must see lists. Reading around I get the impression that they do get very busy.

By chance I have come across the website for the gardens at Château de la Chatonniére
http://www.lachatonniere.fr/
which look like a small scale version of Villandry. As they aren't mentioned in the guide books I assume they will be a lot quieter than Villandry.

Has anyone visited both and if so what are the pros and cons of each?

Many thanks
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:53 AM
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Never heard of it before

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attract...ey_Centre.html

The two older french reviews are not positive.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:13 AM
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Consider Chaumont. I believe that every year they have a garden competition. The year we went, the theme was chaos.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57624575935008
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:22 AM
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We are visiting in September which I think will be too late for the garden competition?
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 10:41 AM
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I've visited Villandry but had never heard of La Chatonniere. So I Googled it and this review from last year was on top of the pile:
http://thegardenwanderer.blogspot.co...re-france.html
Not encouraging. The things that are great about Villandry, mature, historic, superbly designed & maintained, are the things the reviewer found lacking in the other. I suspect in September, especially of you go early in the day, you won't be battling crowds at Villandry as we did not in spring.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 01:00 PM
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I can't answer your question about these gardens, but I have some other ideas for you. In season, you are never far from flowers in France and for us, the smaller gardens have more appeal than the more formal gardens of the chateaux.

Do you know about Villes/Villages Fleuris? There's an annual competition that any village can enter, and each year the winners will display the one, two, three, or four flowers they earned on their welcome sign at the entrance to their village. If you like flowers, don't drive past a four-flower village! Even a three-flower village is worth a stop.

If you are staying in or near Loches, I think you'd enjoy the public gardens along the Indre (or Indrois, I forget which). Very colorful, and there's a great view up to the medieval buildings at the top.

Again, for the hundredth time on this forum, I recommend the village of Chedigny for anyone who loves flowers. It's small and has very little commerce to speak of, but is packed with plants in bloom, and we've been there only in September, so I figure the rest of the growing season is even more spectacular. The town gardeners keep everything immaculate.

If you take the scenic drive along the Indre, most villages decorate their bridges with flower boxes.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 01:59 PM
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Thank you for all your help. I had read reviews on Trip Adviser but hadn't come across the review joannay found. Definitely food for thought. I do love the smaller gardens and was struck when we visited Brittany earlier this year by just how many flowers there are in France. I thought it was important for my education to see a large formal garden as well.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 11:50 PM
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The Chaumont garden festival is amazing and it is open until late October. It is very different from Villandry but equally wonderful.
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 02:33 AM
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What is special about the Chaumont garden festival and in what ways is it different to the gardens at Villandry?
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 08:06 AM
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Curious about Ardithl's suggestion, my friend Google gave me this website among others (the show website is less informative):
http://www.debretts.com/social-seaso...val--2012.aspx
It looks interesting but I suspect not a substitute, nor probably did she mean it to be, for a mature garden like Villandry. Maybe something like a cross between a permanent garden and the Chelsea Flower Show in the UK that runs for just a few days in May (bought my ticket yesterday!):
http://www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/R...ower-Show/2012
I'd be unlikely to choose it instead but certainly in addition to an established chateau garden. It would be interesting to see how it stacks up relative to a show like Chelsea in which the participants throw everything they've got into the few days as opposed to Chaumont where they must keep it fresh for an entire gardening season. It would be interesting to see, especially toward the end, if they pull it off.
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 02:44 PM
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The Chaumont garden show is based on themes. One year the theme was eroticism, the year we saw it, the theme was chaos.
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 02:58 PM
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I've not been the Chaumont when the show is on [i've been in the Spring before it started and the chateau was full of the most wonderful and lifelike silk flowers] but the impression I have from following it on the web is that it is very avant-garde. More Diarmuid Gavin than Bunny Guiness.

Villandry on the other hand is a fairly modern concept [having the recreation of a potager at its heart] but it is far more than this - a beautiful orchard, herb and box gardens, a huge pond, and since our first visit they have added a new english-style summer garden, which we liked a lot.

really it is what michelin would call a 3 star attraction - worth the trip.
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Dec 24th, 2011, 07:32 AM
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Thank you for all your help. It sounds as if the Chaumont Garden Festival is a series of modern themed gardens, which isn't what we are wanting to do/see.

I'm beginning to come round to the decision that it is Villandry....
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Dec 24th, 2011, 08:34 AM
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I think if you go at 9:00 when they open you should miss the crowd. Or go late. In summer they're open as late as 7:30 (last ticket sold says the website so somewhat past that) and I'm guessing it would thin out again in the late afternoon. And if you call them or email they may be able to tell you if there are slow days. But I don't think you'll be sorry.

I'm more a fan of English gardens than French in general but if all French gardens were as beautifully done as Villandry maybe I'd have to reconsider.
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Dec 24th, 2011, 08:41 AM
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when are you going?

the best times are just before they change the planting - so that everything in the potager is at its best. [you might be able to work this out from their website]. We've been in April and July, and preferred July; i'm not sure that there were substantially more people there than there had been in April, and we had the advantage of the summer garden too.

but any time of the year it's lovely.

there is a rather strange cave attraction near-by, plus some quite nice restaurants along the road [not the one by the gardens which seemed to us to be overpriced].
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Dec 24th, 2011, 11:54 AM
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We are based in the area during the first week in September but haven't decided what we are doing when. We'll probably aim to arrive late afternoon.
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Dec 24th, 2011, 12:17 PM
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great - you should get the best of the late summer crops then, and the fruit trees in, well, fruit.

you should allow a good couple of hours to see it all at a nice leisurely pace.
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Dec 24th, 2011, 02:03 PM
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I visited both Villandry and La Chattoniere a few years ago, but it was in June. La Chattoniere was vastly less crowded than was Villandry - it was practically empty except for one area where there was a luncheon.

And I mean really empty. There wasn't even anyone at the admittance booth. There was a note there but my French wasn't good enough to understand exactly what it said.

It wasn't as well tended as Villandry but it was pretty. I especially enjoyed the rose garden.

I liked the combination of seeing both gardens - a nice contrast between the very large and manicured Villandry and the smaller, more informal La Chattonniere. Personally, I found Villandry to be a bit formal for my taste - but that's my taste.

However, I have no idea what either place is like in September.
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Dec 24th, 2011, 09:02 PM
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We saw Villandry in May and June. It was much more in bloom in June than in May.
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Apr 21st, 2012, 06:20 AM
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I went to the chateau de la chatonnièrelast week end please have a look at my blog aventure-de-nathalie.blogspot.com. It is probably worth to visit in June to have a better overview of the senses, flowers but 7.00€ to visit for no flowers (because of the weather ) it is a rip off . However what is interesting to know it is how are created those gardens. I will shortly go villandry as I leave not far ... will keep posted but once again have visit my blog and post comments..... nathalie
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