The French garden festival that rivals Keukenhof
Travelers flock to Holland’s famous Keukenhof gardens every spring to get a glimpse of the colorful waves of tulip, hyacinth and daffodil varieties that push through the soil from March through May. Despite its acclaim and popularity, there is one major downside to this attraction: The exhibition is only open for the duration of the blooming season, which translates to an average of 60 days a year.
If you’re looking for a comparable alternative that will fit into your late spring or summer vacation plans, consider heading to the Loire Valley in central France. This alluring region is known around the world for its bountiful vineyards that produce delicious wines with fresh and fruity flavors. But it is also celebrated as the “Garden of France” thanks to its abundance of fruit orchards and vegetable fields, which produce generous quantities of cherries, artichoke and asparagus along the banks of the Loire River.
In the Loire Valley, you’ll find a beautiful French chateau that hosts a stunning exhibit featuring the latest creations in landscape design from artists, designers and architects around the world. The competition is fierce; only 20 to 30 designs are chosen from more than 300 submissions.
Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire’s acclaimed International Garden Festival, or International des Jardins, takes place April 20 to November 5, 2017. This year’s festival features a “Flower Power” theme with works from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and Japan that will be around long after Keukenhof has closed its gates for the season
In the late summer months, the flowers can be enjoyed after dark, when the daytime exhibitions transform into Jardins de Lumière, or Gardens of Light. More than 2,000 candles illuminate the chateau grounds every evening (except Friday) from 10 p.m. to midnight. To view the exhibit for free, you must enter before 11 p.m. and present your day ticket.
In addition to the gardens, artwork, tapestries, sensory exhibits and sculptures are scattered across the chateau grounds. While you are there, you are welcome to go inside the 500-year-old Renaissance-style castle to tour the historic apartments and visit its stately stables.
Admission is 15 euros for adults and 5 euros for children ages 6 to 11 years. Children ages 5 and under are free.
For more information, visit www.domaine-chaumont.fr.