Parc Floral de La Source ©Fabien Thouvenin

Gardens Extraordinary gardens

Welcome to France's gardens! If you're like me and you love gardens, then you'll simply love Loiret: three arboretums and eight 'remarkable gardens' await you!

 

A gentle climate, a fertile land and skilled horticulturists and collectors all contribute towards our 'green-fingered' reputation. Our speciality: the rose. You may already have heard of the Orléans rose, the André Eve rose from Pithiviers, or the Bellegarde rose. Yet, our gardeners have many other surprises in store for you, some of them rather exotic. Castle gardens, rose gardens, private gardens, arboretums... there's one to please everyone. Which one will you prefer?

 

Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères © Ludovic Letot

Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères © Ludovic Letot

Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères © Ludovic Letot

Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères © Ludovic Letot

Château de la Bussière © Ludovic Letot

Château de la Bussière © Ludovic Letot

Château de la Bussière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Château de la Bussière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Jardin de la Javelière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Jardin de la Javelière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Jardin de la Javelière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Jardin de la Javelière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Château de la Bussière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Château de la Bussière © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Château de Chamerolles © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Château de Chamerolles © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Château de Chamerolles © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Château de Chamerolles © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

  Théâtre des minuits © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Théâtre des minuits © A. Rue ADRT Loiret

Arboretum national des Barres © Vanessa Liorit

Arboretum national des Barres © Vanessa Liorit

  Arboretum national des Barres © Vanessa Liorit

Arboretum national des Barres © Vanessa Liorit

  Jardin de Roquelin © Ludovic Letot

Jardin de Roquelin © Ludovic Letot

  Jardin de Roquelin © Ludovic Letot

Jardin de Roquelin © Ludovic Letot

Are you a rose lover?

A must in almost every garden, the queen of all flowers is honoured in Loiret. Thanks to genuine specialists. For example, in Montbarrois in the Pithiverais region, the owners of the Manoir de la Javelière (what a lovely name!) have a vast 'Collection nationale' of wild roses in their garden. Spring is the most spectacular season to visit, with its abundant blossom and variety of vivid colours.

In Meung-sur-Loire, on the south bank of the Loire, Stéphane Chassine, who once worked with André Eve, has established his own market garden and his old roses at the Roquelin gardens. The advantage here is that, after your visit, you can leave with a souvenir to plant at home. Why not opt for a 'Pierre de Ronsard', or a 'Cuisse de nymphe émue'?

 

Interested in botanics?

Not just one, not even two... but three arboretums in Loiret take you on a journey round the world's botanics!

In Nogent-sur-Vernisson, in eastern Loiret, the Arboretum des Barres is the oldest and the biggest of the three: 2,600 rare or unusual tree species from across the globe are scattered over three collections covering a total of 35 hectares! I saw an 80-trunk thuja, a 46-metre redwood and I came across my favourite of all trees, a ginkgo biloba. It's difficult to see everything on the first visit, but the arboretum's team will convince you to come back. Perhaps over a specific event or show...

Now let's head for Orléans Forest: to the Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères in Ingrannes, an oasis of calm and serenity amidst the woods and the undergrowth... the only disturbance is the song of the birds, who are perfectly at home here! After the old rose garden, pretty lawned alleyways meander their way through beds of pink, purple and white heather. They then take you to China and to America, to admire the magnolias, the oaks and the Cornelian cherry trees: a festival of colours from March to the autumn!

And autumn is indeed the finest season to come and discover the Arboretum des Prés-des-Culands on the banks of the Mauves, in Meung-sur-Loire. Not just for the colours, but also to admire the holly and its bright berries, for this arboretum is also the 'Ilex' national conservatory, reuniting over 400 different holly species. Pierre Paris, the man behind the project, has travelled the world - even as far as Queen Elizabeth's private collection! You will see for yourself that not all holly species are spiny and they don't all have red berries. Some don't even look like holly! The site is also a charming landscaped park, where a vast range of plant species thrive across small islets that are linked by wooden bridges.

But take care, for this is, above all, a place for study: the pathways are covered with ground bark to soften the visitor's pace in order not to stress the plants. So, if you fancy rolling about in the grass or playing tag, I have other gardens to suggest!

 

Travelling with the family?

The people of Orléans' favourite garden: the Parc Floral de la Source. Play areas, tourist train, quadricycles, pink flamingos and butterflies... You could almost forget that this is, first and foremost, a floral park! Here, the lawn is designed for playing, for enjoying a short nap or for listening to the artists as they perform to the light of the lanterns on certain summer evenings. And of course, you can take a stroll to admire the irises and the roses in the spring, then come back to see the dahlias late summer. The park was opened in 1967 on the occasion of the Floralies Internationales plant show (welcoming two million visitors in 6 months!). It is a fine showcase for Orléans' horticulture and one of the Loiret sites that are simply not to be missed. And did you know that the river whose source is inside the park, gave its name to our department?

Budding princesses and knights are also sure to love our castle gardens.

At the Château de la Bussière, a game takes young visitors from cabin to cabin, under the shade of the huge trees. Then, in the afternoon, head for the vegetable garden where you can gather some fresh raspberries to share by the pond. At the Château de Chamerolles, the Renaissance style gardens form a maze for visitors to stroll through or to play hide and seek.

During school holidays, riddles, treasure hunts and nature workshops offer amusement to young visitors within fairytale settings: some great memories to take home!

 

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