This tour focuses on French gardens at their peak. Classic (Versailles, Chenonceau), bustling with colors (Giverny), imaginative and magical (Chaumont, Rivau), extravagant and amazing (Villandry).
History, wines, food, and a good time are on the program.
Day 1 – Friday
Landing in the morning, your private driver will be waiting for you at the international gate; you will have the afternoon to rest or to get acquainted with what will be your neighborhood for the next 3 nights
Your hotel will be:
Les Dames du Pantheon in the Saint Germain/Latin Quarter districts, a very Parisian 4* wonderfully located facing the Pantheon, a national monument
Le Bourgogne et Montana a 4* in the chic but lively 7th. district near the National assembly, the Invalides and Musee d’Orsay.
A welcome dinner cruise will end the day. Excellent menus, wines and service + Paris illuminated for you!
Day 2 – Saturday
A day in Versailles for the Park, the Gardens, the Chateau and an evening of lights and music.
A historian will guide us through the garden and will help us to understand how the Park was conceived by Le Notre in 1660, starting by bringing adult trees from all French regions. Le Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s hamlet are also on the program.
Lunch in Versailles and simple snack dinner before the evening illuminations.
Day 3 – Sunday
Visit to a morning market before lunch at a very Parisian restaurant. Afternoon on your own for museums, a visit to Notre-Dame, the Marais district, walking the Champs Elysées, climbing to Montmartre etc..
Dinner on your own.
Day 4 – Monday
A morning drive will bring us to Giverny, home of Claude Monet from 1883 to 1926. A visit of the gardens conceived by the master will occupy the morning before a late lunch in the village.
Late afternoon on the road to Amboise, your home for 4 nights. Our hotel is the Manoir des Minimes a 4* located on the left bank of the Loire, in the middle of this small, active and charming town.
Convivial dinner in Amboise.
Day 5 – Tuesday
Historically the first Royal Castle -property of the King- in the Loire Valley, Amboise’s chapel in the garden is Leonardo da Vinci resting place. A visit to the great man last residence, the Clos Luce manor, is next.
Lunch and afternoon in Chaumont. This beautiful castle dominating the Loire River was given by the queen Catherine de Medicis to Diane de Poitier, her husband’s mistress after Henri II death. Besides a wonderful park Chaumont is home for the annual “Festival des Jardins”. The International Garden Festival has been providing a unique panorama of landscape design all over the world since 1992. At the same time a source of ideas and a nursery for talent, the Festival gives an extra boost to the art of gardens and gains the interest of both the public and those in the trade by displaying new flower arrangements, new materials, new ideas and new approaches.
The diversity and the high quality of the projects have contributed to the Festival’s international reputation, which has become an indisputable meeting place for displaying the work of a new generation of landscape gardeners, architects or, designers.
Dinner on your own in Amboise.
Day 6 – Wednesday
Until Azay le Rideau, castles were mostly defensive structures; for the first time, Gille Berthelot, Louis XII finance minister built a castle-residence for his enjoyment and for beauty.
After lunch at the Villandry’s restaurant actually serving the vegetables grown for their colors and beauty in the superb gardens where we will spend the afternoon. Already known in the Renaissance, different owners successively transformed them, now into a formal garden, now a romantic garden.The acquisition of Villandry by Joachim Carvallo in 1906 marked a return to their roots for the gardens. With a scientist’s meticulousness, Carvallo recreated gardens that were worthy of the restored chateau. Ever since the construction of the Chateau of Villandry in 1532, outstanding gardens have embellished the building. True to Joachim Carvallo, his descendants have undertaken to preserve and develop the Villandry estate with the rigour and selflessness that are the making of outstanding gardens.
The herb garden is a 1970s creation; the sun garden, based on a design by Joachim, was inaugurated in 2008, as a beautiful way to mark the centenary of the recreation of these exceptional gardens.
Firmly rooted in their time, the gardens of Villandry made the decisive move to organic in 2009. Since then, in particular in the kitchen garden, working methods have been based on integrated management, along the lines of “observe to prevent, prevent to avoid the use of pesticides”.
Convivial dinner in Amboise or in the region.
Day 7 – Thursday
The medieval town of Chinon for Joanne d’Arc and Richard Lion’s Heart, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud for Alienor d’Aquitaine and Henri II Plantagenet, then the Chateau du Rivau for the gardens will fill up the day.
Le Rivau is labelled “Remarkable Gardens” by the Ministry of Culture of France, Conservatory of Fragrant Roses by the CCVS (French Conservatory of Specialized Varieties Collections) and Conservatory of Old Regional Vegetables.
Lunch in a village.
Created by Patricia Laigneau (Landscape School of Versailles) over more than 20 years, the Rivau gardens are contemporary gardens that evolve with the seasons. There are Naturalistic Gardens, that change every day. There are always 2 out of the 14 gardens that are at their climax between April and October, with interesting associations between star plants and plants shedding favorable light on those star plants.
Le Rivau Rose gardens are also labelled “conservatory of the fragrant roses” and contain a collection of more than 450 different kinds of roses. These roses sere not chosen for being old or new but because of their fragrance.
The gardens with roses and thousands of other plants combine to make a real botanical garden and a paradise for expert gardeners and or lesser experts. Each plant is labelled in French and in Latin.
Gardens are cultivated without chemicals, Le Rivau is doing the best to protect the environment.
Day 8 – Friday
Always owned and occupied by women the chateau de Chenonceau is the most feminine of all. Surrounded by a lovely “Jardin a la Francaise” the castle is wondefully decorated making this visit one of the most enjoyable.
Largest for last. After lunch we will visit Chambord. In 1519, a palace rises up out of the swampy lowlands of the Sologne region, on the edge of a forest filled with wild boars. François I ordered its construction. The château de Chambord was not intended to be a permanent residence; François I would in fact spend only a few weeks here, leaving it empty of furniture and people after his visits. It was an architectural jewel that the king liked to show to visiting crowned heads and ambassadors as a symbol of his power. Although the château was not completed under François I, it is one of the few buildings of that age that has survived without major modifications to its original design.
We will be back to Tours late afternoon to catch a direct train to CDG.
Dinner on your own.
Froggytravel services end at the train station.
Day 9 – Saturday
A night at the airport is perfect for a morning stress free departure, landing home same day in the afternoon.