Château de Villandry

A Grand French Icon – Château de Villandry

Château de Villandry’s stunning interior and exterior is something that you should certainly take the time to marvel at whenever you have the chance. It is a beautiful and perfected replica of all the wonderfulness that is French heritage. While the interior and exterior are absolutely magnificent, it is the Château de Villandry gardens that people are far more interested in.

Château de Villandry
Château de Villandry. Source: Flickr

The history of Château de Villandry

The history of Château de Villandry is fairly limited to others, but that doesn’t make it any less enticing, because what it may lack in obvious history, it makes up for in sheer elegance. The ‘history’ of it that is well known isn’t exactly the history anyone is looking for, in fact, the history is linked to the Carvallo family who restored the château to its former glory which didn’t happen very long ago. Let’s take a good look at what we do know about the enticing and beautiful Château de Villandry.

The early history of Château de Villandry

The first known history of Château de Villandry dates way back to the 1500s when it was acquired by Jean Le Breton, France’s Controller-General for War. The lands were once the home to a large ancient fortress which was then torn down by Jean when it came into his possession. While he chose to tear down the original ancient fortress, he did leave one part of it intact and that was the eloquent stone keep that captured his interest for no apparent reason.   

It is said that perhaps he chose to keep the original keep from the fortress to be able to build a lavish and highly desirable château with a touch of class that nobody else would be able to replicate. He then went forth and constructed an absolutely beautiful château with an even more so beautiful garden that had quite an eloquent and mystical look about it. Right up until the year 1754, the descendants of Jean Le Breton remained the owners of the beautiful Château de Villandry and were proud to call the grand castle home.

Changing hands

When Château de Villandry changed hands the first time, it fell into the Marquis of Castellane hands who had the castle modernised. It was then that Château de Villandry also had embellishments done so that it transformed quickly into a Neoclassical style which was trending significantly during that time in the 18th century. After this, Château de Villandry changed hands several more times over the years and it almost seemed like an end to ownership was never going to come.

Then, in 1906, after undergoing many significant changes to its interior, exterior, and beautiful gardens, it fell into the hands of the Hispano-American couple, Doctor Joachim Carvallo and his wife, Ann Coleman. Before this couple came, the entirety of the château, even its surroundings, had fallen into complete and utter disrepair. They saved it from entering a derelict and completely unrepairable state.

Upon seeing this work of art, they fell in love instantly and immediately devoted every single bit of their time, energy, and their entire fortune to restoring the castle back to its former glory. It is all thanks to them that the castle remains in its fantastic condition today, as well as the beautiful gardens.  The first traditional gardens that were put in were unfortunately destroyed before the Carvallow family purchased the lovely château, however, the Carvallo family worked hard and very quickly returned the gardens to their former glory.

Not only is it thanks to Doctor Joachim Carvallo and his wife, Ann Coleman, but it is also thanks to all of their heirs as they also had a lot to do with the upkeep of this grand building and its gardens.

The highlights of the interior and exterior

The interior of this stunning castle is exactly what you would expect from such a divine and majestic building. The Château de Villandry is home to some very unique and absolutely awe-inspiring furnishings that simply light up the room. It adds a somewhat magical atmosphere to the castle that makes it seems as if it is straight out of a fairy tale.

The interior is certainly something that will never be able to be replicated because of just how unique it really is. I can guarantee that many things within the walls of Château de Villandry will never be found elsewhere and it is common knowledge that many of the things are one-off items. While many of the things inside Château de Villandry may not be particularly appealing to others, it is a beautiful reminder of just how different things were many centuries ago.

Inside Château de Villandry
Inside Château de Villandry. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The keep especially is an eye-catching statement among visitors to the castle. Considering that is was part of the original ancient castle seems to draw people to it and its longevity is also extremely impressive. The keep is the only part of the castle to this day that remains a substantial architectural element of the castle. If you look closely enough, you will be able to see several different hole marks in the side of the castle that have been filled in though are still somewhat prominent. They were made back in the 18th century.

The roofs atop of Château de Villandry are their own architectural statement piece within themselves. They dramatically slope proudly off of the peak of the building and they certainly provide a certain look to them that other castles simply cannot. The windows as well are another standout piece in the castle and provide a lovely symmetrical look. Another spot of interest is the huge and impressive bay windows that create a cross window when they are looked at as an entirety.

The famous gardens of Château de Villandry

The stunning Château de Villandry is world-renowned for its beautiful gardens that surround the castle. It is home to six picturesque and simply mystical gardens that capture the true heritage of the French Renaissance era. The entirety of the gardens is framed by a series of stunning ornamental terraces that enhance the effect of the garden which may be why so many adore it.

It is all built specifically according to a theme and layout which was designed meticulously. Perhaps that is why the garden has become such an eloquent and delightful statement piece. Also featured within the garden is the impressive and large vegetable garden that is said to be one of the best you will ever see in your entire life.

Some even say that it is the most impressive part of the Château de Villandry gardens and when seen from above it is one of the most amazing sights you will see. It is made with 9 symmetrical square plots that form a multicoloured checkboard when seen from above, it is truly a sight to see. There are many great little hidden features throughout the garden consisting of a music type theme which was amazing heart-shaped bushes.

It then pursues a love theme that encapsulates a choir of love with several hearts, butterflies, and beautiful fans. The Water Garden is yet another amazing feature of the garden as a whole, mainly because it takes shape of a Louis XV mirror. It is the perfect place for a bit of relaxation, meditation, and simply a place to reflect on anything that may be troubling you at the present time.

The Sun Garden is slightly different to this as it boasts an amazing, dreamy, and golden atmosphere. People say that when you’re there, it is easy to close your eyes and listen to all of the laughter and happiness simply radiating from the Sun Garden. Situated there is also a lovely and winding Maze Garden as well as a beautiful and fragrant Herb Garden. Every single one of the areas within the garden has a beautiful and enticing story to tell that will capture the hearts of many.

It was Joachim Carvallo, who once said that the human spirit “endeavours to ennoble the simple things of life”, which is why the entire garden is built on sustainability and organic gardening. Beauty definitely isn’t the only component in the Château de Villandry gardens.

Château de Villandry gardens.
Château de Villandry gardens. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Present Day

Right now, Château de Villandry is still owned by the wonderful Carvallo family and since being open to the public, it has become quite popular among many different types of people. Whether you are a fan of old castles, stunning architecture, or bright, fragrant, and interactive gardens, Château de Villandry is the place to be because it is very much inclusive for everyone.

These days, the meaningful and important wishes of Joachim Carvallo are being more than honoured. In every part of this glorious estate, you can see parts of his work scattered throughout in the most wonderful way possible. All of his wishes are being fulfilled and even more so, people are loving all of the beautiful things put into play by him and his adored wife.

Château de Villandry is one of the cheapest yet most valuable places to visit within the Loire Valley, so making the most of your day there is worth it. When you wander through the glorious gardens and the enchanting château, you will gain a perspective into just how much work went into this absolute masterpiece. The Château de Villandry gardens are one of the few things that remain open every single day of the year in France, so there is always time to visit.

You may enjoy reading our article about Château de Cheverny.

The Timeline of Château de Villandry

  • 1500- Château de Villandry is acquired by Jean Le Breton, France’s Controller-General for War
  • 1754- Château de Villandry changes hands the first time and goes to the Marquis of Castellane who had the castle modernised
  • 1906- Château de Villandry falls into the hands of the Hispano-American couple, Doctor Joachim Carvallo and his wife, Ann Coleman
  • 1934- Château de Villandry was designated a Monument historique
  • 2007- The château receives around 330,000 visitors

Interesting facts About Château de Villandry

  • It is situated along the Cher River southwest of Tours
  • The château is very well-known for its terraced gardens, which were restored in the 20th century
  • Château de Villandry was the last renaissance style castle built in the Loire Valley

Featured in TV and Film

  • Châteaux de France Villandry (release date unknown)
  • Le château de Villandry (2013)

Books on Château de Villandry

  • Le Château de Villandry by Robert and Henri Carvallo (1998)
  • The Château de Villandry and Its Gardens by Henri Carvallo (2006)

Who owns Château de Villandry?

These days, Château de Villandry is owned by Henri Carvallo. He is following in the footsteps of his ancestors by both preserving this unique heritage site and opening it up for visitors to enjoy. It has been owned by the Carvallo family for a long while and is now one of the most visited castles in France.

Visiting Château de Villandry

Château de Villandry is always a stunning sight, but it is better during a certain time of the year. While the castle and gardens are open all year round, the admission price is always around 7 euros. That price is just to see the gardens; however, it is 11 euros to visit the castle and the gardens. The castle itself suggests that you visit roughly two hours before sunset if that is possible as the view is most enchanting at this time.

May to September is said to be the ideal time to visit the castle as it is far more colourful around this time than any other time during the year. If you plan to visit for a few days, you can also visit Château d’Azay le Rideau, which is a lovely castle built on the river in the Italian style: note that the Château de Villandry was built about the same time but in the ‘new’ French style. The village of Azay-le-Rideau is also a great place to explore.

If you head to the north-east, you won’t want to miss the chance to explore Tours which is a great little town with a charming medieval centre. It also features the impressive Tours cathedral and la Psalette cloisters.

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