vendredi 15 juin 2012

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire's International Garden Festival

The Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire covers an area of approximately 32 hectares and is located between Blois and Tours in the Loire Valley. 
The Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire is the foremost Centre for Art and Nature entirely devoted to the relationship between nature and culture, artistic creation and the impact of landscape, our heritage and contemporary art. 
The Domaine not only includes the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire (15th to 19th century), its gardens and parks, but also from April to the end of October, the stunning International Garden Festival. In addition, there are many exhibits and installations by contemporary artists.

Château de Chaumont

The château makes an impressive sight as it sits high up overlooking the Loire River. While I was impressed by its location and appearance on the outside, I was not overly impressed by the interior and would not recommend it as a must see amongst châteaux. Having just visited the Château d'Amboise and the Château de Blois, I found that this château did not offer any thing extra. The 'Ailleurs, ici' exposition of stained glass windows by Sakris I found rather repetitive, disjointed and tedious.

Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire
I particularly enjoyed the Children's Garden area, the Domaine potager and the International Garden Festival. This Festival has been running since 1992 and this year attracted more than 300 applicants for the coveted 30 places. Applicants are attracted by the prestige of displaying their work and the opportunity to have their work noticed on not just a national but also an international level. Successful applicants are given 11,000 € to help them with their costs executing their displays. Unlike many other garden competitions they have to have their display on show for a greatly extended period, from April to end of October. They do not get a choice of plots so it really is up to them to meet any challenges that the site may present. Some exhibitors do attract additional outside sponsors which goes someway to defraying their costs. Each year the competition has a theme and this year it is: Gardens of delights, gardens of delirium. Free tours are provided in both French and English of a selection of the exhibitors. I found the tour extremely helpful as it explained the creative thinking behind many of the exhibits and also gave additional information about the plants etc. I would never have know that there is a plant that when you gently rub its leaves, the smell is just like the smell of a barbecue.

Paradis terrestre / Mag mell - Part of International Garden Festival
When buying lunch at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire I found that the 2 snack bars which had a choice of 4 rolls with fillings ran out very quickly. Seating was also limited. There was a very nice gastronomic restaurant, Le Grand Velum, which had formules starting at 28€ for main course, café gourmand (coffee with samples of sweet offerings) and a glass of wine. It was more than I was prepared to pay on top of the 15,50 entry fee for the Château, International Garden Festival and grounds. It was not possible to see the 16,50€ buffet with pasta main course so I can't tell you whether it represented good value or not. 

Installation in the garden
Installation in the garden

In spite of spending more than 5 hours visiting the site I disappointingly didn't get around to the many installations in the garden so I can't tell you about them.

The International Garden Festival, grounds and the outside of the château do make the overall site a definite must see in the Loire Valley. I do however recommend just buying the ticket for the International Garden Festival which will also give you access to the grounds (11€) and skip paying the extra to include the internal visit to the château and stables (15,50€). A discount is offered if you have a train ticket to Onzain for the day of your visit. 

Tip: If you want to avoid the long (albeit pretty) walk up the hill to the site, then access the site through the southern entrance (Entrée sud).

41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire
Tél. : 02 54 20 99 22 
Fax : 02 54 20 99 24

2 commentaires:

  1. I like the pose of the bumblebee! Those look like interesting garden exhibits. I'll have to go there.

    1. Thanks for that. It took me ages to get him to pose like that. I have never seen bees like that in Australia - but I don't get out in the garden very often so it could be that they are there but I am ignorant of their existence.


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