The fourth château we visited whilst cruising on the barge “Nymphea”:http://frenchcanalboatcompany.com/nymphea-loire-hotel-barge, on the Loire Valley’s River Cher, was “Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire”:http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en.
This château had been included on our itinerary as it hosts an International Garden Festival. We drove up to it from the town and found its hilltop location provided stunning views of the Loire below.
We visited a number of small buildings around the entrance with various garden-related art works. There was a greenhouse, the outside was covered with rolls of camera film whilst inside artificial yellow sunflowers ‘grew’. The walls in the old stables were covered with a sheet of patchwork metal pieces in various shades. In another, a cat sat atop a pole. They were certainly thought provoking.
The ground level had rooms hung with large tapestries depicting hunting scenes, fabulously coloured tiled floors, and a dining room with table set for dinner. Up a circular staircase to the very top of the house, we found a series of small, run down attic rooms full of bric a brac with stained-glass artworks hung at the window. It was all a little surreal.
The grounds of the château were extensive, with modern sculptures abounding, and stunning and immaculate beds with blue, purple and white flowers.
Outside we found the extensive annual “International Garden Festival”:http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en/international-garden-festival, with gardens created by 25 gardeners from around the world. The theme of the 28th festival was Gardens of Paradise. To a pair of female French designers, their idea of paradise was a garden, “Jardin de Paradis”:http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en/international-garden-festival/archives/2019-edition-gardens-paradise/jardin-de-paradis, that didn’t need watering or maintenance and was disease free. So, their garden contained a huge number of vivid purple plastic bags, lightly filled, and hung on posts. To be fair, it was eye catching even from a distance. Other modern gardens included a US designed rather vivid “yellow wall”:http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en/international-garden-festival/2019-edition-gardens-paradise/habiter-le-mur and path whilst another, by Japanese designers sported a large “QR code”:http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en/international-garden-festival/2019-edition-gardens-paradise/au-dela-des-nuages and a ‘stream’ made from blue stones of various shades.
This is obviously a very popular attraction for Brits as we heard more English voices here than anywhere else on our trip. As well as the temporary gardens in the festival, there are 14 “permanent gardens”:http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en/cultural-programme-and-events/permanent-gardens-pres-du-goualoup, but by this stage, we’d run out of steam.