Jardins à la Française: origins, variations, reinventions

Perspective view of French garden at Chateau de Chanteloup

Jardins à la Française is a Gardens Trust study trip to central France. At present, it is hoped that this tour can go ahead, despite the coronavirus outbreak. The deadline for bookings is now 31 May 2020. It will take place over a long weekend from 25 to 28 September 2020, led by landscape historian, author and curator Dr Gabriel Wick.


We shall meet the coach in central Paris on Friday morning and drive to Fontainebleau, a key site in the development of the classical French gardens in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. From there we head to Chateau de Courances, home of the Ganay family. At Courances we will see the renaissance water-gardens, reinterpreted by Henri and Achille Duchêne in the early 20th century, and restored by the family in the post-war period.

Friday night will be spent in Orléans, before travelling along the River Loire to the newly reconstituted early 18th-century garden at the Chateau de Chambord,  and the Chateau de Chaumont, site of the International Garden Festival. We will also visit the Pagoda of Chanteloup, a poignant fragment of one of France’s lost 18th-century gardens (illustrated).

Then we will stay in Tours, which is conveniently located for touring the gardens of three other chateaux: Lude, Lathan and Grand Lucé, each significant for their history as well as their pragmatic and ecologically-driven approaches to planting and maintenance. Finally, on Monday we shall visit Chateau de Valmer with its terraced-gardens, vineyards and potager, and enjoy a wine tasting before heading back to Paris to connect with an evening Eurostar to London.

Tour cost

The Jardins à la Française tour is expected to cost £755 per person sharing, with a single room supplement of £118, to include all bed and breakfast accommodation, lunches, coach travel from and back to Paris, site entries, literature and guiding.  This cost is based on 30 participants, and may rise by around £40 if the tour is not fully booked.