the authentic french garden

by Sharon Santoni

If the words ‘English garden’ conjure up images of Gertrude Jekyll, tumbling roses and deep mixed borders, then surely ‘French garden’ must make us think of topiaries,  parterres and the unavoidable Monsieur André Le Notre.

Versailles was Le Notre’s most well known creation, but he signed his name to many other 17th century gardens, and his influence has outlived him by over 300 years.  His intricate swirls and loops, contrasting so deftly with the sharp edges and straight lines of his topiaries, linked into the 17th classicism with its desire for order and need to believe that man could control his destiny.

A landscape gardener came here this week to cast his critical eye over my little patch of green.  He sighed and tutted (not very good for my morale!) and eventually came up with some wonderful and bold ideas.  And I couldn’t help but think how much Le Notre still influences the young gardeners of France.

In France today we love to blend the big and colourful mixed border, brought to us by the Romantic movement, with some strict lines and layout, so reminiscent of Le Notre.

So without more ado, here are a few of my favourite  very French gardens,  far too grand in scale for this blogger to imitate, but wonderful to drool and dream over !  And one thing is for sure, this year, I shall be visiting as many  French gardens as I find the time for!

photos: 1 – Versailles; 2-Chateau Champ de Bataille; 3. Château de la Chatonnière   4,5,6-Château la Ballue  7-Marqueyssac; 8- Chateau Gaudon  9- Erignac


Sandra January 27, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Thanks for sharing. These gardens have a charm of their own.
Greetings from Sunny South Africa

José María Souza Costa January 27, 2013 - 2:13 pm

Invitation – inglês
I'm Brazilian.
Spent reading here, and visit his blog.
I also have one, only much simpler.
I'm inviting you to visit me, and if possible follow together for them and with them. I always liked to write, expose and share my ideas with people, regardless of class Social, Religious Creed, the Sexual Orientation, or, of Ethnicity.
To me, what will interest is our exchange of ideas, and, thoughts.
I'm there in my space Simpleton, waiting for you.
And I'm already following your blog.
Strength, Peace, Friendship and Happiness
For you, a hug from Brazil.

The enchanted home January 27, 2013 - 2:50 pm

Wow these are mind blowing Sharon. These are modern day works of art and so amazing. Imagine the maintenance!! They are so perfect….breathtaking!

Purple Flowers January 27, 2013 - 3:13 pm

The photos of those gardens are beautiful. When I think of the thought process needed to succeed in one's design goal is simply amazing. I love all kinds of gardens, although I only keep to flowers because of space constraints (and that we have a vegetable market nearby).
Thank you for sharing these wonderful gardens.

The White Pear Tree January 27, 2013 - 3:33 pm

Versailles…So breathtaking.

A perfect union of man and nature.


Bonnie January 27, 2013 - 4:10 pm

Oh yes, strolling through public gardens is a favorite pastime. I seek them out when traveling. I so enjoyed scrolling through the gardens each one more beautiful than the last. Thanks for the treat….and, good luck on your landscaping. I hope you will share your progress. Bonnie

thefarmfiles January 27, 2013 - 4:23 pm

Gorgeous photos. I just keep scrolling up and down, looking at them over and over. Wow.

Anci January 27, 2013 - 4:35 pm

Lovely photos !


Splenderosa January 27, 2013 - 4:58 pm

I, too, love a manicured-to-perfection look. And, though one could never create a look like these gardens, they do give inspiration & dreams of what can be done.

Art and Sand January 27, 2013 - 6:19 pm

Oh, my! What lovely gardens. Thank you for sharing.

Trouvais January 27, 2013 - 6:27 pm

Oh yes…thank you! Lovely Sharon! XO Trish

Hilltop Farm January 27, 2013 - 7:43 pm

Fabulous gardens! Have walked thru beautiful gardens in England and France, but nothing to rival these! Thx for posting!

Divine Theatre January 27, 2013 - 7:48 pm

The neighborhood kids were so excited to share the google satellite image of my home! They knocked on the door, "Mrs. Pauly! It looks like you have a carpet in your front yard! That's so cool!"
I looked. It was, admittedly, "so cool". The parterre will be three years old this Summer! I have the urge to change the design now that I have seen it from above! LOL! Thanks for the inspiration!



Sophia Home January 27, 2013 - 8:12 pm

Loved these pictures Sharon! When we created our garden from scratch four years ago, I thought I had got a little carried away with my topiary planting……Not compared to these I didn't! Wow, the maintenance! Simply stunning and I shall be making a note of the locations as can feel the desire for a French garden tour trip coming on……perhaps this summer.
Good luck with your landscaping, and I shall look forward to hearing of the progress…..Thank you for sharing this.


cookie January 27, 2013 - 8:38 pm

Beautiful Photos. I am looking forward to Monty Don's new programme on french gardens starting on BBC 2 on friday.

An Eye for Detail January 27, 2013 - 10:20 pm

I'm starting to redo part of our front garden here..and I mentioned "English Cottage Garden" to the man helping me. Ah yes, that was good for a laugh!!! Here, in North Carolina, facing West, against a white wall??? You've got to be kidding?
Yes, I did actually know that, I was just hoping… So, a desert garden it will be. Banana tree, Cannas etc. It's a whole new world for me here, and I'm loving it!!

Aunty Belle January 28, 2013 - 1:06 am

Ah? We all look forward to your project! Perhaps some before and after photos? You are so near Giverny that I imagine your soil is very fertile.

The third photo is celestial, serene…and the fifth with the blue nd green palate is gorgeous. How Fun to live vicariously through MFCH!

Julia C. January 28, 2013 - 1:54 am

Yes beautiful gardens … and hope that your landscape gardener will bring good ideas for your garden.

Magnolia Verandah January 28, 2013 - 5:27 am

Oh yes more gardens please. These photos are breathtaking are they not.

Leslie January 28, 2013 - 7:32 am

So pretty Sharon. The day to day care..well it's worth it! We visited Versailles in July.. breathtaking.


vicki archer January 28, 2013 - 1:03 pm

These are the gardens of dreams, Sharon… so stunning and beautiful… just looking at the images has had me sighing… xv

Reply January 28, 2013 - 8:46 pm

All magnificent, however, do NOT miss Le Notre's masterpiece Vaux Le Vicomte.
it was louis' jelousy of vaux that led to versailles.
Also I would recommend Boise des Moutier in Normandy, attributed to Jekyll & Lutyens. I could go on and on, the gardens I saw in France are some of the most stunning and well kept.

I write a gardening blog & think I'll post some of my photos from these trips. They are so inspirational.


Claire at Vintage Revival January 29, 2013 - 1:43 am

Just stunning!! Versailles is my favourite place. I cant wait to go back there.I hope I can visit them all.

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gw2 gold March 12, 2013 - 3:06 am

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