Chateau Villandry © Anna & Michal
Five miles (8km) outside of Tours is the tiny village of Villandry and its wonderful château. The chateau is impressive, with richly furnished rooms and an interesting history. One of the towers dates back to the 12th century and visitors can ascend its uneven stairway to gain wonderful views of the grounds. Although the building and interiors are worth seeing, the château is best known for its gardens which are famous world-wide. They are open between February and November. These are not your standard ornamental gardens: between the vine-shaded paths and ornamental box hedges are carrots, cabbages and aubergines carefully arranged in patterns; roses climb gracefully above small herb gardens. The gardens are colourful and range from the extremely stylised (which include mazes and patterns) to wilder sections. There is also a garden shop for enthusiasts. Villandry is an easy cycle from Tours and, for those that have worked up an appetite, there are some excellent local restaurants. This is one of the most popular and highly-rated chateaux in the Loire Valley and it consistently delights visitors.