Hollande inaugurates Chambord’s restored gardens

The restoration of Chambord's jardin à la francaise was years in the planning

Château de Chambord's French-style gardens are now open the the public

The newly-restored jardins à la française (French-style gardens) at Château de Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, are open to the public again from today after President Hollande performed the official opening.

After being welcomed by local dignitaries, Mr Hollande enjoyed a tour of the gardens, which have seen the planting of more than 600 trees, 800 shrubs, 200 rosebushes, 15,250 border plants, and 18,874m² of lawns. Work began in August 2016.

Praising the chateau’s place in French heritage, Mr Hollande said: "Chambord is more than a national monument, it is a source of pride.”

He also welcomed the contribution of American patron Stephen Schwartzman, who financed the development of the gardens to the tune of €3.5million and who was recently promoted to the rank of commander in the order of the Légion d’Honneur. "This finance proves the Franco-American friendship," said the president.

Mr Hollande highlighted the importance of protecting France’s cultural heritage in troubled times, saying: "Monuments cannot be reduced to ideological confinement, they affirm the dignity, the work of the man who builds his own destiny.”

Conceived under Louis XIV using drawings made in 1734, the original gardens existed for more than two centuries. But they gradually fell into disrepair and were eventually reduced to simple grassed parterres in 1970.

To restore the gardens to their former glory, the Chambord National Estate spent 16 years undertaking documentary research, geophysical and archaeological surveys, as well as landscape and architectural studies, in order to restore the traces of the parterres, alleys or quincunxes of trees from the middle of the 18th century.

A jardin à la française was a style of garden established by the mid-17th-century that used symmetry and neatness to impose order on nature. Elements used included geometric plans to give perspective (often to make gardens appear larger), a terrace overlooking the garden so that visitors could see its entirety, and trees planted in straight lines and trimmed. No trees were planted close to the house, which served as the centre point of the garden. The garden was always to the rear of the house’s façade.

Other examples of jardins à la française are Villandry and Chenonceau, while André Le Notre created, among others, those at Fontainebleau, the Tuileries palace, Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte.

Plans for Fontainebleau
The Orangerie at Versailles

Here is some impressive drone footage of the project.

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