We drove through the rain as it hammered down on the windscreen, and made our way to our next stop: Château de Villandry.
People come from around the world to get a glimpse of the gardens here, and on a sunny day they look spectacular so we felt a little bit hard done by as we cowered in the car waiting for the beating rain to subside.
Respite did eventually arrive, so we made a dash for it and began our tour, with umbrellas at the ready.
Slowly but surely, a little miracle started to emerge, in the form of the parting of clouds and a few, timid rays of sunshine peeping through. The effect was remarkable, with the colours of the perfectly manicured gardens seeming all the more intense against the dark sky.
A thorough stroll around the gardens can take you well over an hour. Just as you think you’ve covered it all, you stumble across a new tree-lined avenue or pocket of flowerbeds you’d missed.
Don’t be afraid to clamber up into the woods!
The flowers are stunning, and impressive in both variety and quantity. Still laden with droplets of recent rain, they appear simultaneously wild and well-kept, lining the pathways and guiding you around the grounds.
Nobody photographs a tree-lined avenue quite like my Dad, but I thought I’d give it a go…
The grounds are full of surprises, including this pristine tennis court, crying out for a game of mixed doubles in the sunshine.
As you come around the front of the château and come across this view, it really is quite breath-taking. The manicured hedges and flower beds make for the most wonderful sight. Roses flourish everywhere and many of the plants you see are vegetables, which supply the restaurants and local communities with fresh produce every day.
For the gardens alone, Villandry is firmly rooted on the must-see list of Loire Valley châteaux. My second favourite only to Chenonceau (coming soon!) it really is worth the trip. Even in the pouring rain!