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Château de Villandry, Villandry

France 37510
Tel: 33 2 47 50 02 09's insider take:

Even if fancy gardens aren't your thing, the grounds of this 16th-century château in tiny Villandry are well worth a visit. When Spanish-American couple Joachim Carvallo and Ann Coleman designed the gardens a century ago, their masterstroke was to re-create the formal Renaissance gardens they found in old engravings, but to do it with vegetables. Nine squares, bordered by espaliered apple trees, drooping pear bushes, and standard roses (which symbolize the monks who once tended the first medieval kitchen gardens), are a vegetal feast of big purple cabbages, autumn pumpkins, mounds of celery, and colorful bell peppers, all replanted twice a year with a brilliant eye for the colors of the changing seasons. You can also visit the inside of the château, but it's not nearly as remarkable as the grounds.

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