Glorious Gardens: Where to Go in France this Spring

  • Loire Valley gardens

    Loire Valley gardens

Glorious Gardens: Where to Go in France this Spring

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and spring has officially arrived in France! If you're the green-fingered type, there are two particular destinations you should plan to visit this season. 

The Côte d’Azur

The sparkling Mediterranean jewel in France’s crown is celebrating its first ever festival devoted to gardens, running until 1 May 2017. In association with European project JARDIVAL, five of the French Riviera’s hotspots are shining the spotlight on their existing green spaces, and have also each created a pop-up principal garden to be enjoyed by the anticipated 400,000 visitors. Competing against each other, the gardens have been designed with a sensory theme and three prizes will be awarded before the month is up. Head to the Promenade du Paillon in Nice; the Villa Rothschild in Cannes; the Pinède Gould at Juan-les-Pins next to Antibes; the Esplanade Honoré Cresp in Grasse and the Jardin Biovès in Menton.

The festival sees conferences and exhibitions taking place all along the coast, plus sneak peeks of normally-private places and numerous guided tours. Not including urban parks, the Côte d'Azur boasts over 80 gardens noted for their botany, history or location – many offer breathtaking views of the sea or mountains, and 14 of them are also labelled “Jardins Remarquables” testifying to their quality.


Read more on the Côte d’Azur Garden Festival


The Loire Valley
It’s synonymous with majestic châteaux – but gardens are also central to the scenery of this UNESCO-listed valley, with a string of 70 along the banks of the Loire hosting a season of festivities until November 2017. Take your pick from French-style gardens, English parks, vegetable gardens with a flourishing array of heirloom vegetables or old roses, vineyards and forests. The gardens are often the main feature of a château, which is the case at the Château de Villandry, the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire (which hosts the famous annual International Garden Festival) or the fairytale Château du Rivau.

Among the Loire Valley garden season’s highlights are the new French-style gardens at the Château de Chambord, an intricate recreation of the former site designed in Louis XIV’s time. A staggering 6.5 hectares containing 600 trees, 800 shrubs, 200 rose bushes, 15,250 border plants and almost 19,000m² of lawns existed here for more than two centuries before gradually disappearing in the inter-war period. The revival project began in August 2016.


Read more on the Loire Valley gardens season (English site coming soon)


Things to see