France had great medieval and renaissance gardens, few of which survive. In the seventeenth century France took the lead in making Baroque gardens. The power of these gardens was so great that their shadow lasted for over two centuries. In the last years of the twentieth century, France began making great public parks and highly original small gardens. It has always been a country of great horticultural skills.
A number of British and American operators run tours to French gardens and they are very convenient. Northern France is much better served than Southern or Western France. In the Paris region there is an excellent public transport system. Elsewhere in France the train system is good but many of the great gardens are in rural areas with no trains and infrequent bus services. Fortunately, car hire is easy and the roads are good.
Escorted Garden Tours in France
The Genius of Monet, departing 19th May and 14th July 2017
Claude Monet gave French Impressionism its name and France its best-loved garden: Giverney. The tour includes Monet's Garden
(pictured left), the Orangerie Museum, Chateau de Chantilly
and the market town of Senlis.
Photograph by Selena N. B. H.
Gardens of the Loire with Chaumont Festival, departing 9th June 2017
The Loire Valley is the Garden of France, the Cradle of the French Language and place where the France's aristocracy chose to build their most celebrated chateaux. The River Loire is majestic; the chateaux are noble. The tour includes Petit-Bordeaux, Chateau d'Angers
, Parc du Maulevrier, Chateau de Villandry
, Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
and the International Garden Festival
Photograph by Alan Graham
Gardens of the Dordogne, 19th to 23rd September 2017
Hosted by David Wheeler contributor to COUNTRY LIFE
This area is exceptional for numerous prehistoric sites, range of produce, outstanding natural beauty, and for many contrasting high-calibre gardens. A high concentration of Châteaux accounts for some exceptional formal gardens, including Losse, Hautefort and Eyrignac. In contrast, Sardy and Marqueyssac are very informal and romantic. We are accommodated at Le Vieux Logis Hotel, a member of Relais & Châteaux, in the village of Trémolat in the lower Dordogne, a former manor house with ornamental gardens and a gastronomic restaurant meriting one Michelin star, as well as three Gault Millau "toques".
Gardens of Varengeville, 22nd to 24th September 2017
With TELEGRAPH gardens correspondent, HELEN YEMM
Varengeville-sur- Mer, just five miles west of Dieppe, has long been popular with artists and aristocrats, with strong British links. In 1898 Sir Edwin Lutyens designed Bois des Moutiers for Guillaume Mallet. Others of influence moved to the village, met with the Mallet family, exchanged plants and ideas and started to garden. We visit three Mallet family gardens as well as Princess Sturdza’s incredible creation of Le Vasterival, and a new, very private woodland garden. We will be staying at the four-star Hotel la Présidence, a bright modern hotel in old Dieppe between the castle and the medieval gatehouse.