France, Loire
Comment 1

Festival des Jardins

There was one other Loire must-see that we waited to visit until spring, le Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. This fairytale château plays host to the Festival International des Jardins every year, and we knew we wanted to see the 2016 edition. It’s grounds and château are also home to an incredible collection of more permanent artist installations.

huts closeup

Untitled, Patrick Dougherty, 2012

huts from afar

We had heard about the installations and seen some photos, but I don’t think we were quite expecting how much we enjoyed this visit. The domain is huge, and dotted all along the walking paths and throughout the expansive grounds are these fantastical installations. Some appear simply to emerge from nature while others are striking and bold in their statement. The enormous twig huts above were my favourite, they just look so surreal sitting there.


Cairn installation, Andy Goldsworthy. (background, “Chaos”, Vincent Barré, 2014)


“Passage”, Cornelia Konrads, 2015

The farm outbuildings are part of the exhibit as well. The old hayloft houses a beautiful recycled metal installation; another of our favourites was a twisting log, made of laminated wood pieces, which winds it’s way through a barn.

metal from front

Installation by El Anatsui, 2012, made of recycled metal and housed in the old hayloft.

metal from back

metal detail.


“Momento Fecundo” Henrique Oliveira, 2014

log 2

We really loved all the water features. There were numerous ponds throughout the domain, each one a different style. As we approached the first one, the kids ran towards the path winding across the pond, and they both jumped in surprise as a fat frog hopped off the pathway in front of them! We stopped to listen, and were amazed to hear the most enchanting chorus of frogs, chirping and croaking in the stillness of the pond. I posted a short video on my instagram, you can see it here if you’re interested.

red bamboo pond path

“Rond & Carré”, Yu Kongjiang, 2013.


japanese garden tree

“les jardins japonais”, Shodo Suzuki, Fumiaki Takano, and Hiroshi Naruse.

This year’s theme for the Festival International des Jardins was “Gardens from the coming century”. Artists from around the world are selected to design a garden, and the results are just incredible. We were all impressed by the wide variety of designs, each one beautiful and thoughtful in it’s own way.

stick arch

“Explosive Nature”

dripping garden

“Le jardin flottant du songe”. The plant-covered tubing drips water down to the pond below.

stick hut

“Que vienne la pluie…” – Oli was again mesmerized by the frogs singing here.

Eventually we made our way through le vallon des brûmes, and a much-appreciated respite from the humidity and heat of the day. We had no idea what we were walking in to, which made the experience that much better. Descending into a lush wooded valley, we walked along a manmade boardwalk winding along the forest floor and then up the hill to the mouth of the valley. As we got further into the woods, a heavy cold mist started to spray from below, filling the valley with this incredible curtain of fog! It was so awesome.

vallon des brûmes

Le Vallon des brûmes, where a gorgeous cool mist fills the forest every five minutes. Amazing!


vallon des brûmes danica

All in all, we really loved our day at Chaumont. The château building itself is beautiful, I really love the overly large round towers flanking the drawbridge. The interior is filled with more art installations and some incredible photography. It was modern, cultural, and an unexpected wonderful change from the other châteaux we have visited. While we enjoyed the more traditional Loire châteaux (my very favourite is still Chenonceau!), we had admittedly become a bit oversaturated by the ubiquitous tapestries, furnishings and armour that fill the majority of these grand places.


Just looks like a fairytale.



Expansive view over the Loire

Le Domaine de Chaumont renewed our excitement for the history and culture of the region. We love the way that a modern approach has been introduced here, seamlessly melding nature, art, and history. I took a boatload of photos that day (a lot, even for me!) so bear with me and I’ll share a few more of my favourite pics here below.

perfume garden relaxing

“le jardin du parfumeur” — glass cloches filled with scent from the garden!


vined passageway

I want to build a passageway like this at our house!


There were some pretty impressive flower gardens throughout the Domain.


I’ve never seen a poppy like this one!



white wisteria




1 Comment

  1. Shannon says

    Wow! I love that they are unique, straying from dungeons and drawing rooms challenging the idea of landscape and gardens mixed with such bold art. Thanks for the flurry of updates! Looking forward to seeing you soon. xo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s