Château de La Bourdaisière

While the Loire Valley is noted for its châteaux, its many extremely attractive gardens are no less remarkable. Some are labours of love. Others are private collections, borne of a passion for a particular plant, such as the rose or tomato. Many are privately-owned châteaux, whose doors remain closed but whose gardens are open to the public. Many are ‘Jardins Remarquable’, an official national government designation…

L’Arboretum National des Barres

France’s National Arboretum north of Gien is one of the most important collections in the world. It’s so vast you won’t cover it all in one visit but there are themed trails and there’s lots of exploration for children. www.arboretumdesbarres.fr

L’Arboretum National des Barres
L’Arboretum National des Barres

Château de La Bourdaisière

More than 650 varieties of tomatoes in many guises: red, yellow, green and black; stripy or plain; long, thin, miniature, fat or bizarrely shaped. The garden holds the National Collection. A festival is held every September. www.labourdaisiere.com

Château de Chamerolles 

A recently restored Renaissance garden based upon old garden plans with six parterres bordered by pergolas covered with hops, vines and roses. A lakeside walk gives views of the château, which houses a perfume museum. New for 2016 is a roseraie. www.chateauchamerolles.fr

Chateau de Chamerolles
Chateau de Chamerolles

Château du Rivau

Fourteen imaginative gardens beside a fairytale château with contemporary art throughout representing children’s stories. The ‘Gargantuan Potager’ is a firm favourite, though look out for Rapunzel’s Garden, The Enchanted Forest and Alice’s Maze. www.chateaudurivau.com

Château du Rivau
Château du Rivau

Château de Talcy

The Talcy estate features a large farm complex that was renowned for its fruit production in the 18th century. Restoration of the garden and orchards began 20 years ago and they are now home to hundreds of varieties of apples, pears and plums. www.chateau-talcy.fr

Chateau de Talcy
Chateau de Talcy

Château de Valmer

It’s the formally-designed potager that is of most significance here. The owner has identified and planted thousands of forgotten seeds, vegetables and fruits from yesteryear with unusual names, grown for flavour rather than commercial purposes. www.chateaudevalmer.com

Chateau de Valmer
Chateau de Valmer

Chédigny

North of the royal town of Loches, Chédigny is the only village in France to have the distinguished Jardin Remarquable classification in addition to its Village Fleuri 4-star recognition. Parked cars are banned and in their place are roses and spring bulbs. www.chedigny.fr

Chédigny
Chédigny

Les Jardins du Château de la Chatonnière

Privately-owned gardens tucked away in a secret valley near Azay-le-Rideau. The 15 hectares of flower gardens are divided into 13 romantically named areas like ‘The Intelligence Garden’ and ‘The Senses Garden’. www.lachatonniere.com

Les Jardins du Château de la Chatonnière
Les Jardins du Château de la Chatonnière

Le Jardin de Marie

Just a short drive from the vineyards of Sancerre, this privately-owned 2-hectare garden offers inspiration on a realistic scale. Rose bushes fill the borders, smother pergola tunnels and border rustic paths. Marie is often to be seen, offering advice to visitors. www.lejardindemarie.com

Le Jardin de Marie
Le Jardin de Marie

Les Jardins de Roquelin 

On the Loire à Vélo cycle route at Meung-sur-Loire these gardens have been created by Stéphane Chassine, a rose enthusiast who has transformed a rough field into a traditional cottage-style garden. Visitors are welcome to picnic in the garden. www.lesjardinsderoquelin.com

Les Jardins de Roquelin
Les Jardins de Roquelin

Parc Floral de la Source

This landscaped park houses a rose garden around a ‘mirror pool’. There are displays of irises in spring and dahlias in autumn. In true public park style, there’s also a tropical butterfly house, aviary – and flamingos! www.parcfloraldelasource.com

Parc Floral de la Source
Parc Floral de la Source

Le Petit Bordeaux

Created in 1987 in a clearing of deciduous woodland south of Le Mans, the English-style garden has won several awards and is now a Jardin Remarquable. Secret paths, garden rooms, water features and borders all mingle under an arboretum. www.jardindupetitbordeaux.fr

Related articles: The Châteaux of the Loire, a Royal River
500 Year Anniversary: Leonardo da Vinci in the Loire Valley
Things to See and Do in the Loire Valley

From France Today magazine

Le Petit Bordeaux
Le Petit Bordeaux
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Caroline Mills
Caroline is a freelance writer with a focus on European travel. She has toured all areas of France, but none more so than the Loire Valley where she finds the combination of rich historical culture, rural landscape and exceptional architecture - not to mention outstanding wine - an irresistible lure to return again and again. Says Caroline, "With the focus over the next three years on the Loire Valley's connection to Leonardo da Vinci, lovers of art, architecture and French culture are in for a treat when visiting the region with the many additional events and activities on offer." Caroline is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.

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