A French landscape architect, Louis Benech did his apprenticeship at Hillier Nurseries in the south of England. The redevelopment of the Tuileries Gardens in collaboration with Pascal Cribier was his first creation at a historic site. Some 250 accomplishments around the world would follow, including the Sun Garden at Villandry and the gardens of the Quai Branly Museum.

Boulingrin (sunken garden)

A boulingrin is a flat, sunken area of lawn edged by grassy banks. The word is used particularly in the context of chateau grounds and public gardens. Taken from the English bowling green, it first appeared in the French language under Louis XIV.

Jean BRETON ( 1490 ? - 1542)

A knight, Baron of Mondoucet, Lord of Villesquin, Minister of Finance under Francis I, Superintendant of Works at Chambord and Ambassador to Rome, Jean Le Breton bought the seigneuries of Colombiers (Villandry) and Savonnières in 1532 for 35 000 livres, and had the present-day chateau built. Its coat of arms – azure a chevron Argent a chief Gules charged with three golden bezants – appears on one of the skylights of the main courtyard. He also owned a ‘miniature’ replica of Villandry, a few miles from Chambord: Villesavin. The name of his first stronghold “Villandry” near Chateaudun (acquired around 1520) will be transferred to his land of Colombiers.
His memoirs recount the events of the reign of Francis I.


Ornamental garden parterres in whorls imitating classical leaves. Strictly speaking, from the 18th century onwards, “parterres de broderie” were parterres containing only dwarf box in shapes representing leaves and florets to imitate embroidered fabrics. The embroidery figures had to be clearly distinguishable. They were never repeated since their beauty lay in the originality of their design.

Joachim CARVALLO (1869-1936)

A doctor of Spanish descent, Joachim Carvallo moved to Paris in 1879 to work with Charles Richet (winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1913). In 1899, he married Ann Coleman, the young heiress of a wealthy American family of iron and steel magnates. The couple bought the Villandry estate in 1906. Carvallo devoted the rest of his life to restoring Villandry to its Renaissance glory. In 1924, he founded “La Demeure Historique“, an association of owners of listed buildings.

Castellane, Michel-Ange de (2 October 1703 – 26 September 1782)

Count Michel-Ange of Castellane was the King’s Ambassador to the Ottoman Porte (1741 to 1747) and Brigadier of the King’s Armies. He was born into one of the oldest and most illustrious families of Provence. He acquired the Villandry estate in 1754. The Marquis of Castellane died at Villandry on 26 September 1782, and is buried in the seigneurial tomb in Villandry church.

Cerceau, Jacques I Androuet du (c. 1515 – 1585)

16th-century French engraver and architect whose reputation was built upon his best-known work,Les Plus Excellents Bâtiments de France. This valuable testament describes, with great precision and in much detail, the major accomplishments of French Renaissance architects. Many architects drew inspiration from his writings for their own subsequent designs.


Hornbeam hedge. The hornbeam can grow to a considerable height and lends itself to clipped hedges.

Chateaux of the Loire

The term ‘Chateaux of the Loire’ refers to a series of chateaux in the Loire Valley built or renovated in the French Renaissance. During that period, the Court of the Kings of France, with its seat in central France, had some magnificent mansions built. The Loire Valley owes its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List to this architectural richness. Particularly noteworthy among the many chateaux of the Loire are Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, Chambord, Cheverny, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Chenonceau, Saumur, Sully-sur-Loire, Valençay and Villandry.


The former name of Villandry.


Term derived from the Latin fabrica, meaning ‘construction’, used initially by landscape painters to denote the buildings with which they adorned their pictures. It shifted in meaning to be used subsequently by gardeners and architects to refer to the architectural elements that embellished gardens.

Francis I (1494 – 1547)

King of France from 1515 to 1547, patron, protector of letters and builder, Francis I was one of the emblematic figures of the French Renaissance. He endowed French architectural heritage with three chateaux of the Loire – Amboise, Blois and Chambord – as well as the transformations to the Palace of the Louvre and the Chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and the construction of the Palace of Fontainebleau.

Glacis (bank)

This term denotes a gentle, uniform slope in a garden, usually covered with grass.

Hainguerlot family

Between 1810-11 and 1897, the chateau and gardens of Villandry were owned by the Hainguerlots, a family of businessmen who made their money during the Directoire period. Stéphanie Oudinot, wife of George Tom Hainguerlot, donated a large organ to Villandry church. Because the costs of maintaining Villandry’s formal French garden were too high, the Hainguerlot family turned the grounds into an English-style landscaped garden.

Jardin d’agrément (ornamental garden)

A “jardin d’agrément” – an ornamental or pleasure garden – contrasts with a “jardin utilitaire”, or utilitarian garden, as a place to stroll and relax.

Jardin à l’anglaise (English garden)

The “jardin à l’anglaise”, an English-style landscaped garden, contrasts with the “jardin à la française”, the French formal garden. A symbol of freedom imported from England in the second half of the 17th century, the “jardin à l’anglaise”, also known as “jardin romantique”, or ‘romantic garden’, presented nature emancipated from the hand of man. The “jardin à l’anglaise” was adorned with buildings or ruins in a variety of styles – Greek, Egyptian, Swiss, Chinese, regional – or sometimes a mixture.

Jardin à la française (formal garden)

The “jardin à la française”, or French formal garden, surpassed the humanist gardens of the Italian Renaissance. The French style, which saw its high point at Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV, sought to bring nature to the highest degree of perfection. To that end, all art forms and all techniques were brought into play.

Jardin Remarquable

The label “Jardin Remarquable”, or ‘Outstanding Garden’, was created as a result of proposals put forward by the National Council for Parks and Gardens, a new institution of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication set up in May 2003. It indicates to the general public those gardens whose design, plants and upkeep are of outstanding quality, whether they are private or public gardens or listed historic sites or monuments.

All the information you need to know about the “Jardins Remarquables” can be found on the website of the Committee for the Parks and Gardens of France:

Jardin utilitaire (utilitarian garden)

The “jardin utilitaire”, or “jardin de curé” (‘vicar’s garden’), has its origins in the monasteries and presbyteries of the Middle Ages. Here monks grew vegetables, fruit, flowers and medicinal plants. It was divided into squares edged by plant borders, with a well or pond at its centre.

Labyrinth or Maze

The labyrinth, or maze, was a vital element of Renaissance and French formal gardens. It is a reference to the Labyrinth thought up by Daedalus to conceal the Minotaur, but it does not have the same meaning. The Greek Labyrinth was a place where men would get lost and endlessly search for a way out in the midst of ambushes and dead ends. In contrast, the Renaissance hedge maze was, in the Christian spirit, a place of progression, where the path taken by the walker symbolised the progress of life and the centre of the maze, on an elevated plane, stood for the encounter with God.

Les Plus Excellent Bâtiments de France

Published in 1576 and 1579, “Les Plus Excellents Batîments de France” (The Finest Buildings of France) was the first ever anthology devoted to architecture. In it, Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau described the thirty most famous Renaissance chateaux, including Chambord, Blois, Fontainebleau and the Louvre. The descriptions were accompanied by engravings.

Antonio LOZANO

Sevillian painter who, in conjunction with Javier de Winthuysen, was involved in designing the ornamental gardens at Villandry, in particular the Love Gardens and the Garden of the Crosses.


Machicolations are stone structures with square openings or wide slits in the floor, built into the wall-walk of a tower or curtain wall, enabling its base to be defended.


Mullions are vertical strips of stone or wood. They divide into a number of sections the surface of windows in gothic and Renaissance buildings.

Miroir d’eau (ornamental lake)

Ornamental lakes are known as “miroirs d’eau”, or ‘water mirrors’, because of the way they reflect their surroundings, the light breaking up the monotony of the plants.

Monasticum Gallicanum

The Monasticum Gallicanum, or Monasticon Gallicanum, is a collection of 168 plates representing the Benedictine monasteries of the Congregation of St Maur, produced by Dom Michel Germain in the 17th century.

Monuments Historiques

The Commission des Monuments Historique, or Historic Monuments Commission, was set up in 23 September 1837. Its role is to protect buildings chosen on the basis of their historical, artistic and architectural interest. Once a building has been listed or classified, it is allowed to display the “Monuments Historiques” logo, whose design is based on the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth.


In architecture, the neoclassical style followed classicism and baroque. The discovery of the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 18th century marked the beginning of renewed interest in classical architecture. The Petit Trianon, built by Louis XV in the grounds of Versailles, is a perfect illustration of Greek taste: a square layout with clean lines, each of the four façades decorated with different Corinthian elements.


In landscape gardening terminology, parquet means a decorative square. It is synonymous with parterre.


The Renaissance emerged in Italy. This period signalled a deep transformation in Europe across the economic, social, philosophical, technological and artistic spheres. The Renaissance is marked by: the emergence of printing, the rediscovery of classical culture, the forging of new trading relations, a questioning of how the world was represented, etc. In France, the Renaissance arrived later than in Italy, but was no less flourishing. Two great promoters of the French Renaissance were Francis I and Henry IV.

Jardin romantique (romantic garden)

Arnaud de Saint JOUAN

Architect of the Historic Monuments department, Indre-et-Loire

Alix de Saint VENANT

Alix de Saint-Venant is owner of the Chateau of Valmer in the Loire Valley. The Chateau of Valmer’s Renaissance kitchen garden preserves and displays rare and forgotten plants. Alix de Saint-Venant is also a botanist and landscape architect.

Henry IV style

Henry IV style is synonymous with the French Renaissance. The Place des Vosges is a good example of this style combining Italian influence with French tradition, apparent in the use of brick, red stone, stone and slate to form an uncluttered, functional, coherent whole.

Louis XV style


The origins of topiary date back to Antiquity. In Ancient Greece, galleries were decorated with topographical paintings. In Roman Antiquity, a topiarius was a gardener who created pleasure gardens decorated with plant sculptures representing animals, objects or scenes. This ornamental clipping technique was taken up again in Renaissance gardens, then in French formal gardens. It was excluded, however, from the “jardin à l’anglaise”, since it was seen as a constraint on nature.


In the Middle-Ages the village was named Colombiers. It took the name Villandry in 1639. However, its inhabitants are still known as Colombiens.


Spanish painter and landscape architect who worked on designing the Love Gardens and the Garden of the Crosses.