On my recent trip to France I toured the Loire Valley. It is a beautiful part of France and the home to seventy-two magnificent Chateaux. We visited five, but my favorite was the smallest. Villandry built around 1536 is one of the last great Chateaux built along the banks of Loire during the Renaissance. On July 4, 1189 the king of England, Henry the II signed a treaty of defeat before the King of France Phillppe Auguste at Villandry.
In the 19th century the traditional French garden was destroyed to make way for an English style park around the chateaux. In 1906 a brilliant scientist gave up his career and began to restore the gardens back to their renaissance French heritage. He restored the garden to that of which is found at Villandry today. The gardens are why I fell in love with Villandry. For you see some things never change. The expression of love is timeless as found in the love gardens of Villandry.
To fully see the gardens you must go to the belvedere (the open sided gallery at the top of the roof). From there you can see the four squares that make up the love gardens. Time stands still as you look out onto the gardens. No matter what your age the nature of love never changes and it is memories of love that forever keeps us young.
The four gardens are:
“Tender Love”, is symbolized by hearts separated by small flames. In the center you see the mask worn at the balls. Who doesn’t feel the spark of youth when you think of the warm glow of tender love?
“Passionate love”, hearts appear again, but this time broken by passion, laid out in a farandole to evoke dancing. Oh how youthful passion makes the heart dance with emotion!
“Flighty love” is symbolized by butterfly wings and fans ,and in the center love letters evoking the flightiness of feelings. Love comes and love goes and many times we fall in and out of love.
“Tragic love”, the drawing represents the blades of daggers and swords used in duels caused by rivalry in love. The flowers here are red symbolizing bloodshed. Jealousy, rejection and a broken heart reminds us of the volatility of youth.
Passion sparks a youthful glow. Love in all its aspects fills us with joy for it is the very nature of love that makes life so very artful, passionate, beautiful, youthful and indelibly marked upon the soul; just like the love gardens of Villandry.
Ahhh the youthfulness of love!