The gardens of the Château de Vendeuvre
The Château de Vendeuvre was built from 1741 as the country seat of Alexandre de Vendeuvre where he would spend his summers with his family. Originally the gardens were all formal but in the 19th century they were altered to become a large landscaped garden. During WWII the house was occupied by the Germans and the gardens razed but from 1970 the current count began restoring both the house and the gardens, the latter to a more simple design incorporating several themes.
The front and back of the house still have formal gardens with neat paths, clipped topiary and water features including an imposing lake.
To either side of the house are a series of themed gardens and buildings - a large dove cote indicated how wealthy the family was since their wealth determined how large a cote they could build - and this one is BIG! Other buildings include an ice house, Japanese tea pavilion, a Burmese pavilion and a shell grotto containing 200,000 shells. There are formal and informal mazes, the former being home to a wonderful horse sculpture made from driftwood I wrote about in my last blog. You can also walk through a tropical garden where plants such as banana trees and yucca thrive in a sheltered walled environment.
Photo of the ice house courtesy of Caroline Utting who visited in May
It is perhaps the surprise water gardens that most people know, love and remember. Walking around one side of the house, past a formal fish pond you cross a bridge and as you do so water spurts out from 2 decorative stags' heads, a precursor to what you are about to discover. The stags don't get you wet but beware, as unsuspecting visitors who continue into this area of Vendeuvre may find themselves the recipient of a quick shower when they least expect it, as we did thanks to some very innocent looking tortoises!
Throughout the formal and informal gardens it is the topiary and shapes of the shrubs and trees which dominate no doubt keeping an army of gardeners busy maintaining their neat shapes. There are only a few flowers to be seen and even these reflect topiary in their form, such as hydrangeas. There is however one notable exception to this overall lack of colour when, in April, the Château de Vendeuvre opens its gates for a tulip festival. Visitors can admire the colour created by over 30,000 bulbs (tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths and crocuses) that bring carpets of colour to all the gardens. It is on my list to do next year.
The Château de Vendeuvre has much to offer the visitor as well as the gardens - the lower floors of the house are open to the public and packed full of furniture from before the French Revolution. The kitchen has also been restored and positively overflows with cooking utensils from this decadent time. Finally there are 2 museums, one dedicated to dog beds (the French aristocracy loved their pets) and another to the world famous collection of miniature furniture amassed by the current countess.
Situated less than an hour from Eco-Gites of Lenault and my friend and I managed to spend all day there for an entry fee of just €10.90. Visitors can also buy cheaper tickets without visits to the castle or museums. There is a small gift shop but no refreshments are available although you can either picnic in the grounds or in the shady car park. Oh and if you need a loo, whilst the ones behind the orangery that houses the miniature furniture collection are perfectly clean, I really do recommend you go to the one opposite the gift shop on the way to the kitchens!
Have you been to The Château de Vendeuvre? Did you get wet?
Linking up with the lovely Annie Spratt and her fabulous #HDYGG linky (How Does Your Garden Grow) and MondayEscapes - do head over and have a read of both: