The Chateau de Villandry is located approximately 12 kilometres south-west of Tours and overlooks the open valley of the River Cher. The chateau was declared a Historical Monument in 1934 and today forms part of the Loire Valley U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Site. Considered to be one of the most visited chateaux in the Loire, its popularity is not so much due to the delights of its early architecture, and its renovated and appealing rooms, but more for its gardens. The outstanding traditional French gardens, which cover over 2 hectares, have been re-established after having been converted in the 19th century to the then popular English style. This however, does not say that the chateau lacks any interest, indeed the house delights in appropriate renovations which have provided visitors with more than fifteen rooms to view. All of the rooms are very different and have been painstakingly complemented with 18th century furniture and tapestries, with the highlight of the renovation being the East Salon. This room has been critically renovated from floor to ceiling in 15th century Mudejar style, which originated in Toledo, and boasts a ceiling that is comprised of 3,600 pieces of wood that was originally located within a mosque. The room is tastefully decorated with a typical 17th century, local, silk brocatelle wall-covering, and exhibits beautiful art works which present the life of the Marquis Michel-Ange de Castellane who owned the property in the 18th century. As mentioned the gardens are for many the major point of interest and today the old Renaissance gardens have been restored to their former glory. Covering a slightly sloping landscape the gardens have been recreated over four terraces which include the decorative kitchen garden, herb garden and the maze, and the more traditional ornamental gardens known as the Sun Garden, Water Garden, Love Garden and the Music Garden. The chateau is lived in by its owners, the Carvallo family, yet provides access from early February to mid November and offer visitors a souvenir and gift shop, a gardener’s shop, restaurant and tea room. Please note, where possible the vegetable garden produce is available within the restaurant.
Originally the location of a medieval castle, the present chateau was built on this site in 1536 by Jean le Breton, the Minister of Finance of King Francis I. The chateau was constructed to incorporate the original keep, which had become famous as the site in which peace had been discussed between King Henry II of England and King Philip Augustus of France in the 12th century. The chateau is one of the last of the larger chateaux built in the Loire Valley and is comprised of three wings built in a ‘U’ shaped pattern around a rectangular paved courtyard. The courtyard faces to the north, towards the nearby River Cher, and is overlooked by a two storied dwelling which is surmounted by a third level that is comprised of dormer windows within a steeply pitched roof. Decorated with stone gables, the dormer windows add a simple classic appeal to the chateau. The eastern side of the chateau is built against a retained hillside while the western side overlooks a, what is now, decorative moat.
For details on when the Chateau is closed please check their website.