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 8th and 15th May, 12th June 17th July and 4th September 2015
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, departing 14th May and 3rd September 2015
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 Côte d’Azur’; Hosted by Helen Yemm, 10th to 15th May 2015
The allure of the French Riviera and the Côte d’Azur has long been acknowledged by garden enthusiasts throughout the world. British travellers in particular have been spellbound by the exotic perfumes and colours, many settling here to create gardens of distinction. In this exclusive tour we visit some of these remarkable gardens but also include some exciting contemporary masterpieces. Good food is a strong element of this tour: we dine out at traditional restaurants and include special invitations to join some of the
garden owners for a relaxing lunch and drinks in their flower filled gardens.
HORTUS Travelling Light: ‘PARIS UNPACKED’, 15th to 17th May 2015
Featuring Courson’s famed Journées des Plantes
A ‘daisy chain’ of remarkable gardens thread their way from sea to River Seine: all country gardens set amidst old cider orchards lush rolling pastures, and mixed woodland, mostly owned by passionate gardeners with fine plant collections that excel from April to October and peak in June. Numbers are limited on this very special tour as we are taking over the small hotel, Le Moulin de Connelles. This four-star Arts and Crafts hôtel de charme is a former water mill that straddles the Seine, linking its own island to the mainland.
‘Golden Harvest’ a celebration of French Potagers, 9th to 14th September 2015
Loire & Berry Regions of France
At this ‘season of mellow fruitfulness’ the productive gardens selected for this tour will look wonderful in the early autumn sunlight: a last fling of vibrant colours and abundant produce. Here, where more than half the population have access to their own vegetable plot, the art of vegetable gardening has reached a very high standard. We include gardens at the top of many keen gardeners’ wish lists including Prieuré Notre-Dame d'Orsan, Villandry & Valmer. Not to mention two autumn shows: Chaumont and the Festival de Tomate at La Bourdaisière. The two selected hotels are renowned for fine cuisine and excellent hospitality.