There are many great things about living in Normandy, but one of the more amazing features in my part of the woods is the Chateau du Champ de Bataille, that has been lovingly restored, by Jacques Garcia, one of France’s leading interior designers.
Monsieur Garcia bought the Chateau in 1992 and started the renovation immediately. Dividing walls were removed to create large reception rooms, and the interiors recreated in 17th and 18th century style. Part of the chateau is open to the public, and a large part is given over to the owner’s private apartments.
When the chateau was purchased, the formerly magnificent French gardens were lost. It’s thought they had been originally designed in the 17th century by André Le Nôtre (who designed the gardens of Versailles), but none of his outlines remained visible. Instead the chateau was sitting among fields, with a few flower borders near the main buildings.
After a huge storm in 1993 brought down many trees, the decision was made to redesign and restore the gardens . Accompanied by the talented garden designer Patrick Pottier, Garcia has tamed and remodelled nearly 250 acres of grounds….. that is a big undertaking.
Hills were created artificially, trees, vines, topiary planted and the most incredible structure was born. When I visited last weekend, it took me over two hours to walk around the grounds.
I admire their work, and their vision. To move from a blank canvas to these fascinating and complex gardens where the visitor can wander through vineyards, past vegetable and cutting gardens; sit in green amphitheatres or take time to enjoy the view in the shade of white wisteria is nothing short of genius.
This garden is very far removed from my gardening style. While I am more about mixed borders and tumbling roses, about crowded flower beds, with plants vying for attention and an unruly mix of colours and textures, Garcia’s garden is in strict 17th century French style. It is all about taming and controlling nature, about shapes, volumes and perspective.
Of course I admire their talent and their drive and passion, but maybe what I love most is that in today’s world, where we want instant pleasure, and corners are often cut in the name of economy, that Garcia and Potter have taken the time to create this grandiose garden and spared neither expense nor energy to achieve their goals.
If you’d like to see the Champ de Bataille chateau and gardens, it’s about a couple of hours by car from Paris. More information available here on their website.