Autumn in the Loire with Jonathan Moseley
A fascinating, flower-themed tour to the birthplace of the French Renaissance Garden
Known as ‘The Garden of France’, the Loire is home to some of the country’s most beautiful châteaux. Built by the French nobility, these fairy tale castles with their distinctive pointed towers, also pioneered the art of the French Renaissance Garden. Our five day tour in the company of floral artist Jonathan Mosely, travels to the most impressive of these châteaux, exploring not only the extraordinary gardens of Château du Rivau, Château Gaillard and Château Villandry, but also the exquisite interiors and architecture of these historic buildings. We have timed the tour to coincide with the world-renowned International Garden Festival at Château Chaumont. A showcase of the very best of contemporary garden design, this Festival is an inspiring treat for all the senses. A hands-on, floral demonstration from acclaimed florist Frédéric Bertin completes the tour, allowing guests to give their newly refuelled creativity full reign.
The price includes four nights’ accommodation at 3* Best Western Plus L’Artist, entry to all sites, a floral demonstration and set lunch at Château du Rivau.
Please let us know if you wish us to help with arranging accommodation the night before the flight.
Set in the grounds of the renaissance-style Château Chaumont, the International Garden Festival is an annual showcase of innovative garden design. Featuring around 30 show gardens created by internationally-known landscape architects and artists in response to a changing theme (2018’s is still to be announced), the Festival will delight and inspire – especially as visitors are free to stroll through the installations, smelling the flowers and foliage as they go. Unlike other garden shows which open and close within a few days, this one runs from April to the end of October, a time scale that presents the garden designers with the challenge of accommodating the changing seasons.
With its elaborately decorated façade, Château Chaumont is one of the most ornamental of the Loire Châteaux. We have allowed a full day here because there is so much to see besides the International Garden Festival. The Château’s interior, for example, has been designed as a series of room sets taking visitors from medieval times right up to the 19th century, while the grounds consist of a fine, late 19th Century stable block and an English-style, ornamental parkland offering multiple vistas of the Château and the Loire River. Art lovers will be delighted to discover that Château Chaumont also boasts France’s finest collection of one off medallions by the 18th century Italian sculptor Jean-Baptiste Nini and a series of contemporary installations by artists including Andy Goldsworthy and the inventor of vertical gardens, Patrick Blanc.
The Royal Château at Amboise was the seat of the Court of Kings Charles VIII and François 1st. Both sovereigns liked to invite men and women of letters and European artists to stay at the Château, the most celebrated being Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci arrived in 1516 and, when he died three years later, his tomb was placed in Saint-Hubert’s Chapel. Guests on our tour will be able to visit his tomb, as well as the underground passageways and towers of the medieval fortress that are located beneath the Renaissance Royal House.The Royal Château’s landscaped gardens are registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site and offer truly spectacular views of the Loire valley.
Leonardo Da Vinci spent his years in Amboise living close to the Royal Court at Château du Clos Lucé, now a fascinating museum. Visitors can see the bedchamber where he died, marvel at the 12m wide flying machine in the hall and examine over 40 of his models in the meticulously recreated workshops. Outside, the garden has been turned into an open air museum dotted with full scale, interactive recreations of inventions such as his assault chariot and paddle boat, as well as 40 translucent canvasses suspended from the trees.
Château Gaillard, a short walk from Clos Lucé, is home to France’s first Renaissance garden. Designed for Charles VIII by Dom Pacello de Mercogliano, nicknamed ‘the Leonardo of Gardens’, it is best known as the place where orange trees were acclimatised in France for the first time. Today, visitors can wander freely through these gardens, visit the Orangery with its 50 varieties of citrus trees and sample some fresh orange juice in the bar.
A blend of medieval and renaissance styles, Château du Rivau is a fairy tale castle set in the heart of a UNESCO world heritage site. The beautifully restored interior contains an amazing range of Renaissance and Gothic architectural features, as well as paintings, furniture and a superb collection of Brussels tapestries. Outside, Patricia Laigneau has created a series of 14 contemporary gardens, each inspired by a medieval legend and planted in such a way that, between April and October, there are always two at their best. Rose lovers are in for a special treat as the Château’s garden is also home to 450 different varieties, some chosen for their remarkable fragrance and others for their ability to bloom time and time again so there are sure to be some roses in flower when we visit in early October.
To ensure that you get the most out of this remarkable garden, we have arranged for one of the gardeners to take you on a private tour. You will also be treated to a delicious set lunch in the Château restaurant.
Château Villandry is the last of the Renaissance châteaux to be built on the banks of the Loire River and is best known for its magnificent gardens. Created in the early 20th Century by the Spanish doctor Joachim Carvallo, these formal, Renaissance-style gardens spread across three terraces. We spend a morning here, giving guests ample opportunity to explore the decorative mix of flowers and vegetables in the Kitchen Garden, marvel at the complex, boxwood shapes of the Ornamental Garden and soak up the tranquil atmosphere of the Water Garden
We have teamed up with acclaimed floral artist Frédéric Bertin who will treat guests on the tour to a private demonstration of his skills using flowers from Château du Rivau’s gardens. Once Frédéric has shown you just want wonders can be achieved with freshly picked, seasonal flowers (and you’ve been refreshed with a glass of the Château estate’s own wine, juice or a cup of tea), you will have the chance to make a buttonhole arrangement of your own to take home.
Amboise is the most Italianate of all the towns of the Loire and we make time for our guests to explore the pretty, medieval streets with their temping boutiques and inviting cafes. Once you have had lunch at one of the many local restaurants, it’s just a short walk down rue Victor Hugo (stopping to admire the houses built into the limestone cliff face as you go), to the château where Leonardo da Vinci spent is his final years.
3* Best Western Plus L'Artist Hotel
This stylish hotel is only 11 minutes from the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours (fine arts museum).
Modern, colorful rooms offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs with cable/satellite channels.
A continental breakfast buffet is served in an airy dining area. There's also a relaxed bar, an outdoor terrace, a guest lounge and a fitness room.
Monday 1 October
Arrive nantes airport and transfer to hotel
Time at leisure
Tuesday 2 October
Breakfast at the hotel
0900 transfer to The International Garden Festival and Château Chaumont
16.30 transfer back to the hotel
Evening at leisure
Wednesday 3 October
Breakfast at hotel
0900 transfer to Royal Château at Amboise
Lunch in Amboise and free time
PM - individual arrival and visit to Château du Clos Lucé
Individual arrival and visit to Château Gaillard
16.30 pick up at Château Gaillard and transfer back to hotel
Evening at leisure
Thursday 4 October
Breakfast at hotel
0900 transfer to Château du Rivau for private tour and floral demonstration
Set lunch at Château du Rivau restaurant
16.30 transfer back to hotel
Evening at leisure
Friday 5 October
Breakfast at hotel at check out
AM - visit to gardens at Château Villandry
Transfer to Nantes Airport for return flights to UK
Flights with EasyJet from Gatwick
Outbound to Nantes: EZY8961 departure 10:40 arrival 13:05
Return to Gatwick: EZY8964 departure 18:05 arrival 18:25
included 23kg hold luggage.
Please contact us for full details or refer to EasyJet website.
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Tour Price: £919.00*
Flights to Nantes with Easyjet from Gatwick
Single Supplement: £128.00
Prices shown are per person, based on 2 guests sharing a twin/double room.
Prices are subject to change until a payment has been made.
Prices are updated regularly to reflect the increases in airline costs.
- 4 nights B&B at the Best Western Plus L'Atist
- Return Flights with EasyJet from Gatwick
- Welcoming dinner at a local restaurant in Tours
- Local coach transfer and travel throughout
- Services of ECT Tour Manager
- All entrances and visits to all Chateaus and gardens
- Entrance to Chaumont Garden Festival
- A welcome talk with family from the Chateau de Rivau
- Lunch at Chateau de Rivau
- Floral demonstration by Jonathan Moseley
- Floral demonstration by Federic Bertin
- Floral elements and instruction to make a button-hole floral work
- Jonathan Moseley will be accompanying you throughout
- 23kg Hold Luggage