Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My European Trip 17 - Villandry

Villandry was completed toward 1536 and was the last of the large chateaux built in the Loire Valley during the Renaissance. Villandry is best known as France's archetypal potager, a kitchen garden, together with its ornamental garden, water garden, and herb garden.

To understand and appreciate these gardens, you have to know their history and the symbolism behind their design. Villandry was built by Jean le Breton, one of King François I's finance ministers. Le Breton had been ambassador to Italy, where he devoted his spare time to study the Italian Renaissance art of gardening. Anyone who has been to Florence will instantly recognize this influence in the grounds of Villandry.

Most noteworthy are the ornamental gardens, for its colors and motifs symbolizing tender love, tragic love, fickle love, and mad love. Behind the herb garden is a maze, which I didn't visit. I don't think you can enter it anyway, because you might never find your way out of this Garden of Love!

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