Congratulations to all those who correctly identified the gardens and château at Villandry. Although it was rather easy. It’s such a beautiful and unique place that you never forget it, even if, like us, it’s years and years since you last went.
In fact it must be well over ten years since we last visited Villandry. That’s the great thing about living in the Loire. You don’t have to go to all these places every year, or even every ten years. Just knowing they are on the doorstep is enough.
We spend quite a lot of time sitting on our little terrace, looking over the rooftops of the village, wondering what we shall do today. Mostly we don’t do much at all, but knowing that we could do so many different things, or visit so many different châteaux if we wanted to, makes us happy. There are more than a dozen within an hour’s travel from our village.
We have driven or ridden past Villandry many times since our previous visit, at least once every holiday. That means probably a dozen times every year. We have even stopped a time or two and had a snack or a coffee in one of the little cafés just along the road. We would watch the hordes and hordes of tourists piling in and think “next time we’re passing, if it’s quiet, we’ll go in”.
Traipsing round anywhere amongst hordes of other tourists doesn’t appeal to either of us, though. But in early October, midweek, at ten in the morning on a dull day when it’s threatening rain, is a perfect time to go. This is what we discovered last month. There were only a handful of other visitors so a lot of the time we had the place almost to ourselves.
At home in Derbyshire we live only ten miles or so from Chatsworth. We ride past many times every year, at all times of year, and marvel at how beautiful it is in all seasons. But at weekends it is heaving with visitors so it must be at least twenty years since I walked around the gardens and possibly thirty since I went into the house. Nick has never been inside at all. But knowing it is there, if we wanted to go in, is perfect.
We did feel slightly smug about living just down the road from Villandry. Of the few people that were there it was obvious that most of them were a very long way from home; Chinese, Italians, Americans. I often think of friends of mine who lived in York and back in the 80’s they used to wear badges on their lapels that proclaimed “I’m not a tourist, I live here!”. A lot of these people had had to go to an awful lot of trouble to be walking around the gardens at Villandry, whereas we had just left home an hour before.
We spent a good hour or so wandering around the gardens, and nearly as long indoors, taking lots and lots of photos. Plenty for another couple of posts, in fact !!