Now that it's springtime, vibrant flowers and extraordinary plants are blooming and growing almost everywhere. The arrival of spring also means temperatures are warming up and sunny days are lasting longer. So if you need a breath of fresh air, now is the ideal time to explore the outdoors and observe nature at its finest. Here are four gardens in Europe that you must visit this spring:
Gardens at Château de Villandry
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Château de Villandry in France's Loire Valley is home to gardens that many nature-lovers consider being the most beautiful in the world. These organic gardens are the final remains of the great chateaux of the Loire built during the Renaissance and recreate a 14th-century design. At the end of 2009, this attraction was awarded the Quality Tourism Classification by the Ministry of Tourism due to its impressive upkeep and enhancement, as well its welcoming tradition that has been firmly established in Villandry for almost one hundred years.
The four terraces of the gardens consist of a magnificent sun garden, a water garden lined with linden trees, a “love garden” featuring sculpted box hedges and yew trees, and an attractive vegetable garden. The chateau also features multiple sub-gardens with colorful flowers and unique topiary. When you are on higher grounds, you will be able to clearly see and appreciate the garden’s sophisticated and intricate layouts. These gardens are fortunately open yearlong, so you can visit them anytime you happen to be in Europe!
Referred to as The Garden of Europe, Keunkenhof is an attraction that must be added to your to-do list. This garden, which located in the southern Netherlands near the town of Lisse, Keukenhof, is the world’s second largest flower garden. This massive garden is home to the single largest collection of cultivated bulb varieties anywhere on earth. Every autumn, gardeners plant millions of flower bulbs that eventually bloom into Keukenhof’s gorgeous gardens each spring. Within its 90 acres, the garden showcases more than 7 million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Altogether, the garden is home to 800 varieties of tulips.
The park is only open from mid-March to mid-May, when the flowers are fully in bloom and ready for their glorious unveiling. This year, the garden features an impressive flower bulb mosaic that uses thousands of tulips to create a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh. Feel free to bring the kids when you visit, as Keukenhof is very kid-friendly with its treasure hunt, petting farm, maze and playground!
When Claude Monet lived at his house in Giverny in Normandy, France for 43 years, he carefully cultivated flower gardens and a water garden full of perspectives, symmetries and colors. In these gardens, Monet mixed the simplest of flowers, such as daisies and poppies, with the most rare varieties of plants. You will discover flowerbeds, fruit trees, ornamental trees, climbing roses, long-stemmed hollyhocks and the colored banks of annuals dominating the flower garden. In the water garden, you will find the famed Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, weeping willows, bamboo wood and the famous nympheas.
If you explore these famed grounds, you will witness the gardens that inspired much of Monet’s work. Just like in Monet’s paintings, the colorful flowers grow freely and naturally instead of in a structured manner. The gardens are especially popular in the summer when the flowers are in full bloom, but the grounds and house are open to visitors March through October. If you plan on visiting, you can buy tickets online in advance to avoid waiting in line.
Gardens at Château of Versailles
The gardens of the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris, are possibly the best example of the formal French garden found anywhere. In 1661, Louis XIV commissioned André Le Nôtre to design and lay out of the gardens that were laid in front of the palace of Versailles. In his view, the gardens were just as important as the Château. The works began at the same time as the palace and took forty years to complete due to the extensive work that was required to lay out to gardens. Vast amounts of earth were shifted to make room for the flowerbeds, the Orangerie, the fountains and the Canal.
Visitors love wandering around the 2,000 acres of the gardens to admire the flowers, fountains, and winding paths. There’s no bad season to visit Versailles, but the gardens are most beautiful in spring and summer. While the gardens and park are always accessible, the buildings of Versailles are closed on Mondays.
If you are a true nature-lover, these colorful and unique gardens could be the highlight of your Europe trip. As you explore these legendary gardens, the natural beauty will captivate your eyes and the fresh air will fill your lungs. If you haven’t planned your trip to Europe’s renowned gardens yet, CroisiEurope currently has special spring cruising offers that will take you to there! For more information, click here.