Monday 14 January 2013

Mirror Image

There are always fun ideas for gardeners at the Chaumont International Garden Festival, held in the grounds of the chateau there. The Festival has been running for over 20 years, inviting garden designers to create small gardens based around an annually changing theme. The budgets tend to be relatively small and so there is plenty that the home gardener can take away and easily achieve in their own garden.

Susan from LVTT and Australian client Louise
demonstrating a clever 'not a mirror'
arrangement in a 2012 Festival garden.
The gardens often have a humorous or fantasy twist to them, but they are also serious about putting the right plant in the right place. These are not typical show gardens, in that they have to survive from April to October. Occasionally a garden will be so good it is kept permanently and that is a real testament to the designer and their knowledge of plants.

Recently the chateau acquired another 10 ha of land just beyond the area the Festival takes place in. Work on the landscaping was undertaken in 2012 and soon the new garden will be open for public visiting.

If you want novel ideas for your garden, or are keen to see where garden design in France is heading, email us and we will design a tour that includes the International Festival of Gardens at Chaumont, as well as other notable gardens in the area, such as the world famous Villandry.

Friday 4 January 2013

Book Early for May

May has the most public holidays of any month in France and this year they fall in a way that means the period 8 - 12 May is likely to be the busiest in the whole year. Wednesday 8 May is Victory in Europe Day. It is immediately followed by Ascension Day on 9 May. Ascension is usually considered the real opening of the main tourist season in the Loire, because by then the weather is likely to be good, the days long and everyone will look forward to making a long weekend of it by taking Friday off (faire le pont, literally 'making the bridge') and taking a mini break in the country from Wednesday to Sunday. Wednesday 1 May is also a holiday (Labour Day) and Sunday-Monday 19 - 20 May is the Pentecost holiday.

A village ceremony for 8 mai in the Touraine.

These holidays can prove problematic for visitors, and catch them unawares in various ways. For instance, in our experience, the Friday after Ascension is the busiest day of the year in the popular chateaux. Likewise, many of the family run wineries won't be open for visitors in the afternoon, as they don't see themselves as tourist attractions and choose to spend time with their family rather than take the commercial opportunity. Trains will run on a reduced service, and accommodation books up fast.

If you are planning a trip to France in May and are worried about how the public holidays might affect your trip, email us and let us design a tour for you with the benefit of our local knowledge. Remember, any tour booked and paid for in full before the end of March 2013 will be at 2012 prices.