Part 11: The Gardens at Villandry and City of Tours, FR


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The Trip

We left our own personal chateau at Chenonceau and headed to the chateau at Villandry which is famous for its intricate gardens.  From Villandry, we headed to the city of Tours.  At the end of the day we returned to Chenonceau for our 2030hrs dinner reservation.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Villandry is a big place, but not as large as many of the chateaus we have seen.  Its claim to fame is the intricate gardens that surround the chateau building.  There were a number of outbuildings associated with the chateau and the one in the photo above was the largest and served as guest housing.  These gardens are either under construction or reset to the "zen garden" look.

The gardens are huge and have both edible food as well as flowers that are just for looks.  The portion above is the edible part with lettuce, cabbage, egg plants, carrots, etc being grown.

The edibles are surrounded by the same type hedges that are used for the ornamental gardens.

The purple bush is lavendar.

This side of the property is the ornamental gardens.  Note the patterns in the hedges.

Clubs, hearts, diamonds and spades are represented in hedges.

Many of the bushes are cut into ornamental shapes in apiary style.

A number of the smaller areas had nice fountains.

From across the edible gardens we got our first good look at the main chateau at Villandry.

The edible gardens were nicely organized and were used to produce food for the chateau occupants.

The ornamental garden in the foreground shows the multi-color style that was favored by the royals back then.

All flowers were surrounded by hedges and were best viewed from above.

The gardens and general grounds required extensive skilled maintenance.  While deemed a historical site, the owner lives off of ticket revenues and uses it to maintain the site.

When we finished checking out the gardens we went inside the chateau to see what was there.  We spotted this interesting spiral staircase that goes up 4 floors.

Some of the rooms had original artifacts in excellent condition.  This piano was magnificent.

A typical banquet setup for a small number of guests.

Some of the artifacts were quite well preserved.

The kitchen in the chateau was organized in the standard way for that era.

Jim and Michele check out the "red room" with its intricate carved marble fireplace mantle.

One of the high ceiling rooms had an intricate carved top to represent the positions of the stars in the sky.  Very impressing.  We left Villandry and headed to Tours.

At Tours, we parked right across the street from this 15th century gate.

This modern statue mixes well with the medieval motif of the inner city.

Michele and Kathleen explored the narrow streets looking for a good place to eat.  We hiked quite awhile before deciding.

The diesel tractor pulls the tourist train through the narrow city streets.

Once we sat for lunch, I started to pay attention to what was going on around us and I spotted this attractive gal eating lunch with her buddy.  Most of the French girls we saw were svelte and fashionable.  The Americans were easy to spot: under-dressed and over weight.

The medieval buildings have been preserved nicely over the years.

Walk about 4 blocks out of the medieval section of old town and you get into the modern portion of Tours, complete with sophisticated tram system.  The tram is quiet and fast and you better be paying attention when the tram is near because it is hard to hear.

Near the Loire River was a small carnival with a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round.

The nice stonework bridge over the Loire River was all decked out with flags.

The river wall includes a flood height record that go back to 1372.  Interesting to note that there have been no high water events recorded since 1907 which could mean that the weather is changing or the records keeper is lazy.  Also note the fainter marks in Roman numerals to the left of the steel gauge.


We went to the Theatre in Tours and it was heavily adorned with interesting art.  But, sadly it was closed so we could only see the outside edifice.

This is a portion of a tomb for Charlemain's wife.  The issue is not really who is buried there, but rather the construction techniques that have been used over the years and are visible.  Most of these thick walls are filled with rubble with only the outside being worked stone or brick.  The rubble filling is visible in the photo above as well as the use of both fired brick and cut stone.  The rubble filling is clearly visible on the outside wall near the top of the photo.

Another interesting thing about these older structures is that they are almost never torn down but just amended.  Note the remains of a flying buttress that was under distress.  Rather than removing it, it was easier to just fill in the area underneath it.  And, the filling is hollow (no rubble filling).  Note the holes in the wall under the old buttress.

This church is across the street from Charlemain wife's tomb.

A small farm house on the River Cher surrounded by sunflowers.  Chenonceau is beyond the far woods.  We passed this place as we attempted to navigate back to our hotel.

The Chateau at Chenonceau is a must-see if you are in the area.  While not the biggest chateau, it was one of the best preserved of the ones that we saw.  Our stay at Le Bon Laboureur was very, very nice if a tad expensive.  OK, expensive; the cost was 2X of the other rooms that we stayed in, but totally worth it.

We had dinner at another restaurant in Chenonceau and it was very good as well.  Tomorrow, we break camp and head to Chambord and Chartres on our way back to Paris.

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