5 November 2012



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.

 villandry6 villandry7

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 !!



  1. LOL re your NY friends. We used to both have the same badges when we lived in York :-) Working/studying at the King's Manor where the Centre for Medieval Studies was located meant we were always battling hordes. I once was asked where "The Westminister" was!

  2. Luverly place, init! We went back there at the beginning of the month... first time in three or four years... they hadn't 'tidied' up round the pumpkins then... but it was lovely, nonetheless.
    Your "Rose of Sharon"s that you blogged about t'other day are still in bloom and looking healthy... I went to take a look after getting the Sunday Paper and milk.

  3. Overheard in York: "Gee, Wilbur, these cobbles hurt your feet!" "Yeah, Velma, but they're soooo historical!" My boyfriend at the time had one of those badges too. Pollygarter

    1. A couple of years ago we went on a guided bus tour of the Hardwick estate in Derbyshire. The bus was an ancient rattly old thing and it was great fun. The guide was a local old codger and he was full of stories of foreign tourists, the funniest being the American couple who were totally amazed that anyone should build such a beautiful house as Hardwick so close to the motorway !!

      Maybe Bess of Hardwick found the constant rumble of distant traffic comforting !!

  4. What a super place, Jean. Thanks for enlightening those of us who have never visited or even heard of Villandry. I know what you mean about just knowing that you could visit somewhere is often enough. DH and I do that all the time. :-)

  5. Wow, those gardens! So tidy, so colourful, so perfect. Villandry must be an absolute treat to visit. It also looks very tranquil. Will probably never visit it in person, but it is nice to see it through your eyes.

  6. Thanks for sharing the photos. Yes there is so much to see in France and we still have so many places close by that we want to visit. It is odd our neighbours who have lived here all their lives, say we have seen more of the Charente than they have! By the way love your header. Take care Diane

  7. How blooming lovely!!! What a fabulous place - everywhere in France looks as if it is a film set. Gorgeous xxx

  8. Gorgeous photos. Those gardens are amazing!

  9. We last went to Villandry in the winter, you may not get all the colour but the structure of the garden really shows. Our favourite winter visit was Rocamadour a few years ago. A handful of people and just one (good) restaurant open. Bliss.