Chaumont sur Loire is a beautiful little village overlooking the Loire, not far from Chambord and Blois. Every year, an International Festival of gardens is organised in the park of the castle. And evey year I go. But for the first time, I was totally disenchanted by the festival which shows no new idea and no good design with the exception of Arthur de Vilmorin’s wicker and plant garden.
Yet the 19 th century park designed by Henri Duchêne, has never been so pretty and tulips were competing with acantha leaves and amazing cedar trees for our attention. So when you arrive at the cashier, ask for the castle and not the festival. You will not miss much and will save 16 €.
The 15 th century castle overlooking the river, was the property of Catherine de Médicis and Anne de Poitiers. Artists and writers stayed there in the 18 th and 19 th century including Germaine de Stäel and Benjamin Franklin. In the 20 th century it was the « kingdom » of Princesse Louis Amédée de Broglie, a sugar heiress, who kept a salon. After her husband died, she remarried the young Spanish Infant, Louis Ferdinand d’Orléans, who was thirty five years younger.
It was fun to discover that my ancestor Elisabeth de Gramont used to stay there… A number of rooms have been devoted to contemporary photography and Luzia Simons, Sarkis and Jean Baptiste Huynh all showed interesting works along Goldsworthy’s Japanese photographs. The castle itself is well decorated with a chapel occupied this year, by Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger.
The park now has a number of beautiful sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy, Cornelia Konrads, Nikolay Pollisky, Vincent Barré and Anne and Patrick Poirier. It’s wonderful to walk around and suddenly discover one of these works behind a bush. There is also a dog graveyard and stables in which Mathieu Lehanneur and Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira have created sculptures.
This place, which belongs to the State since 1938, has kept a magical feel thanks to a manicured garden. Do stop by if you are in the Loire valley area. It is 2h30 from Paris by car and completely worth the trip.
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