For fans of garden design, 2013 is the year to visit France. Not only for the 400th birthday celebrations of André Le Nôtre, the father of the jardin à la français, but also for the International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire. First held in 1992, the annual festival showcases a series of gardens designed by top talents in the field of landscape architecture and design. A prestigious jury—helmed by literary journalist Bernard Pivot this year—select some 20 projects from the hundreds of dossiers submitted from all over the globe. This year’s theme? “Gardens of Sensations.”
Particularly buzzworthy are works by invited guests: the celebrated Chinese gardener Yu Kongjian, and designer Patrick Jouin, who trained with Philippe Starck for many years before opening his own agency. (In 2010, the Centre Pompidou dedicated an entire exhibit to Jouin, whose work includes Vélib’ stations in Paris and swanky Alain Ducasse restaurants worldwide.)
Chaumont itself is a fairytale chateau that’s often overshadowed by the big Loire Valley favorites: Chambord, Chenonceau, and Villandry, where sprawling Renaissance gardens also delight horticulturists. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Loire River, the 15th century chateau once belonged to Catherine de’ Medici.
The International Garden Festival runs until October 20, 2013. Tickets are 16 euros.