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
Monet’s Garden and the Orangerie Museum, departing 14th June, 19th July and 6th September 2013
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, Clos du Coudray
and Le Bois des Moutiers
, which is the best Gertrude Jekyll garden in France.
Photograph by Selena N. B. H.
Gardens of the Loire with Chaumont, departing 5th September 2013
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 French Riviera: An exclusive COUNTRY LIFE tour, 24th to 29th September 2013
With Boxwood Tours
Featuring remarkable gardens created by British gardeners early in the 20 th century as well as exciting contemporary masterpieces. Two carefully chosen hotels: four-star Hotel Napoléon in Menton, hard against the French and Italian border and Le Mas de Pierre in a rural setting near St-Paul-de-Vence, surrounded by beautifully kempt gardens. Includes reservations at the 2 Michelin star, La Mirazur and La Bastide de Saint Antoine as well as invitations to join garden owners for relaxing lunches. A ravishing tour not to be missed.
'HORTUS goes to Normandy': Gardens of La Seine Maritime, 8th to 12th September 2013
With Boxwood Tours
La Seine-Maritime is the region of Upper Normandy in France that lies between Dieppe & Rouen where a ‘chain’ of remarkable gardens lays from Varengeville to Vernon, from sea to River Seine. These country gardens, set among old cider orchards, lush rolling pastures, and mixed woodland, are owned by passionate gardeners with fine plant collections. The Arts & Crafts Le Moulin de Connelles is now a 4* hotel du charme with a restaurant renowned for regional cuisine.