37 photos

Villandry is one of the great chateaus built on the banks of the Loire during the Renaissance. It was not the residence of a king nor a courtesan, but of Jean Le Breton, Minister of Finance for François I. Interested in architecture, Jean Le Breton was also intrigued by the art of gardening, which he studied when ambassador to Rome. Times had changed. Feudal fortresses made way for delicate chateaus, 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. At the foot of the chateau, overlooking the River Cher, splendid gardens were laid out.
Over the years the gardens and chateau were changed by different owners. They were restored to their Renaissance beauty when they were purchased in 1906 and renovated by Joachim Carvallo and his wife Ann Coleman, an American heiress.

Partially timber framed house (likely 15th century) on the Rue de la Mairie. Across the street from the Romanesque Church of St. Stephen of Villandry which dates to the 11th and 12th centuries.

Partially timber framed house (likely 15th century) on the Rue de la Mairie.  Across the street from the Romanesque Church of St. Stephen of Villandry which dates to the 11th and 12th centuries.

On the Rue de la Mairie in Villandry is the Romanesque Église Saint-Étienne de Villandry (Church of St. Stephen of Villandry) which dates to the 11th and 12th centuries.

On the Rue de la Mairie in Villandry is the Romanesque  Église Saint-Étienne de Villandry (Church of St. Stephen of Villandry) which dates to the 11th and 12th centuries.

House and grounds near the Church of St. Stephen of Villandry.

House and grounds near the Church of St. Stephen of Villandry.

Jim on a street in Villandry with the chateau west garden wall on the right. We enjoyed a walk around and a stop at a bakery in Villandry before touring the chateau and gardens.

Jim on a street in Villandry with the chateau west garden wall on the right.  We enjoyed a walk around and a stop at a bakery in Villandry before touring the chateau and gardens.

View of the Château de Villandry from just outside the west garden wall. The out of place looking tower at the right front corner of the chateau is the original castle keep which predates the chateau.

View of the Château de Villandry from just outside the west garden wall. The out of place looking tower at the right front corner of the chateau is the original castle keep which predates the chateau.

View from northwest of front of Chateau de Villandry, finished in 1536. Elevated belvedere walkway on side of the hill to the left provides excellent views of the gardens behind and to the east.

View from northwest of front of Chateau de Villandry, finished in 1536. Elevated belvedere walkway on side of the hill to the left provides excellent views of the gardens behind and to the east.

Looking northeast at the main tourist entrance to Chateau de Villandry with the moat and the main part of the Chateau de Villandry on the right.

Looking northeast at the main tourist entrance to Chateau de Villandry with the moat and the main part of the Chateau de Villandry on the right.

Gardens. On right is an outbuilding built around 1754 by chateau's new owner the Marquis de Castellane, ambassador to the King (brochure identifies the courtyard of this building as "farmyard").

Gardens. On right is an outbuilding built around 1754 by chateau's new owner the Marquis de Castellane, ambassador to the King (brochure identifies the courtyard of this building as "farmyard").

Workers trimming vines growing on outbuilding in the classical style built around 1754 by the chateau's new owner the Marquis de Castellane.

Workers trimming vines growing on outbuilding in the classical style built around 1754 by the chateau's new owner the Marquis de Castellane.

Panorama from almost due east of Chateau de Villandry showing main tourist entrance on left, moat in foreground, Chateau de Villandry on right with the original castle keep at the extreme right end.

Panorama from almost due east of Chateau de Villandry showing main tourist entrance on left, moat in foreground, Chateau de Villandry on right with the original castle keep at the extreme right end.

The Ornamental Gardens just behind the chateau. Right front garden is "Fickle Love"; right back "Passionate Love"; left front is "Tragic Love"; and left back is "Tender Love" with hearts.

The Ornamental Gardens just behind the chateau. Right front garden is "Fickle Love"; right back "Passionate Love"; left front is "Tragic Love"; and left back is "Tender Love" with hearts.

Layout of the kitchen gardens at Chateau de Villandry in 2014. Ten gardeners work all year in these gardens.

Layout of the kitchen gardens at Chateau de Villandry in 2014.  Ten gardeners work all year in these gardens.

Looking across the kitchen garden at the southeast corner of outbuilding built around 1754 by the chateau's new owner - brochure identifies the courtyard of this building as "farmyard".

Looking across the kitchen garden at the southeast corner of outbuilding built around 1754 by the chateau's new owner - brochure identifies the courtyard of this building as "farmyard".

The Romanesque Église Saint-Étienne de Villandry (Church of St. Stephen of Villandry) which dates to the 11th and 12th century as seen looking west from the Chateau de Villandry belvedere.

The Romanesque Église Saint-Étienne de Villandry (Church of St. Stephen of Villandry) which dates to the 11th and 12th century as seen looking west from the Chateau de Villandry belvedere.

Looking northeast through kitchen gardens at the chateau - original castle keep on right side of the building. The walkways of the belvedere extend along the hillside to the right above the gardens.

Looking northeast through kitchen gardens at the chateau - original castle keep on right side of the building.  The walkways of the belvedere extend along the hillside to the right above the gardens.

Chateau de Villandry - an arbor in the gardens.

Chateau de Villandry - an arbor in the gardens.

Looking north northeast across the gardens toward the chateau in right center with an outbuilding dating to the 1700s on the left. At the right side of the image are grape arbors over the walkway.

Looking north northeast across the gardens toward the chateau in right center with an outbuilding dating to the 1700s on the left. At the right side of the image are grape arbors over the walkway.

Panorama from west to east looking north across the gardens with the chateau on the right (east) and the Church of St. Stephen of Villandry on the left (west).

Panorama from west to east looking north across the gardens with the chateau on the right (east) and the Church of St. Stephen of Villandry on the left (west).

Looking north northeast across the garden toward the chateau with the original castle keep in the center forming one corner of the chateau. Note the interesting plantings in the near garden.

Looking north northeast across the garden toward the chateau with the original castle keep in the center forming one corner of the chateau. Note the interesting plantings in the near garden.

Looking northeast across the Water Garden toward the hill and The Woods garden. The large pond that feeds the moat is past the fountain.

Looking northeast across the Water Garden toward the hill and The Woods garden.  The large pond that feeds the moat is past the fountain.