As spring turns to summer and warmer weather, gardens are in full bloom and if you’re looking for a Chelsea Flower Show moment in France – you won’t be disappointed with a visit to some of the most beautiful gardens in France.
For a Chelsea Flower Show style visit – the International Garden Festival at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire can’t be beaten. Hundreds of show garden ideas are submitted by the top garden designers around the world with the best being created in the grounds of this fabulous Chateau with its beautiful permanent gardens and park.
Best formal gardens in Paris and France
French Gardens are known for their precision and geometry and for their beautiful parterre designs – formal hedging used to create form and pattern. Amongst the best known examples are the Versailles Gardens – all grandeur, regular linear shapes, fountains and canals.
Designed by the most famous of French gardeners André le Nôtre, who also designed the gardens at the magnificent Vaux-le-Vicomte, Fontainebleu, Chantilly and the Tuileries.
In Paris there are several splendid formal gardens – the Jardins du Luxembourg, the Parc Monceau, Parc Montsouris, Parc de Bagatelle, the Buttes Chaumont, the Champs de Mars, the Esplanades des Invalides, the Trocadero and the Jardin du Ranelagh are just a few of the magnificent parks open to the public and the perfect place for a stroll or a picnic.
For something a bit off the beaten track in Paris – a wander round the 18th Century designed gardens of the Presidential Palace are a real treat. The Elysée Palace was once the home of Madame Pompadour and the Elysée Palace gardens are well worth a visit – open free to the public on the last Sunday of each month.
Beautiful gardens of France
France is a land of many landscapes and climates – as a result the variety of gardens is superb.
Normandy is the location for Claude Monet’s garden of Giverny – one of the most famous gardens in France and indeed the world. The artist’s eye for colour is transferred to the garden making it one of the most visually striking gardens in France.
In the far south of France is the Domaine du Rayol, in the Var, which overlooks the stunning islands of Hyères-les-Palmiers. The garden has been developed to represent as much of the world’s biodiversity as possible and is divided into 11 different areas including Canary, California, South Africa, Australian, Subtropical Asian, New Zealand, Chilean and Marine Garden. A 20 hectare conservation area, 7 hectares of which are landscaped gardens and events and workshops throughout the year make this an excellent day out.
There are hundreds of beautiful gardens in France – in all areas. The tag Jardins remarquables (Remarkable Gardens of France) is granted to gardens which meet criteria of outstanding aesthetic, botanic or historic value. There are almost 400 gardens of different styles from contemporary, to botanical, to arboretum or even English gardens that have made the grade. (Remarkable Gardens of France).
France puts on a number of different events throughout the country, many of them around May and June, to celebrate its natural assets, both wild and tamed by human hands.
Top garden events in France
Fete de la Nature celebrates gardens all over France each May with a week of events focussing on nature in the garden.
More than 800 events which can be anything from a nature walk and insect workshops, to exhibitions and games, or shows to festivals. From small gardens to the grandest it’s a chance to get involved and enjoy nature first hand.
France’s first and most famous Safari Park (the equivalent to Longleat in the UK) is the Thoiry Park and Chateau. To celebrate the national fete this year, they will be creating a habitat in their ecological park with 70 different species of invertebrates and amphibians. Other species at the park include snow leopards, elephants and lions! Alongside the expansive zoo, the chateau itself is a wonderful historical gallery to visit.
Fete de la Nature website for details of events
Rendezvous aux Jardins is held the first weekend in each June – it is a chance to visit both public and private gardens over a weekend – many of them are usually closed to the public so it’s a real chance to enter secret gardens and find out more.
Themes are chosen each year for instance 2013: “The garden and its creators” will celebrate the 400th birthday of André le Nôtre (the principal gardener of King Louis XIV), see also the gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte for more Le Notre celebrations.
Find out more about the Rendezvous Aux Jardins.