Corinne LaBalme reports on the International Garden Festival at Chaumont, one of the most delightful castle ground strolls in the Loire Valley. With “Gardens from the Coming Century” as its theme for 2016, the festival presents the brave new world of flower beds, hydroponics and botanical fantasies. Castle-hoppers exploring the valley and day-trippers from Paris take note.
Urban planners in the French capital don't spend all their time imagining how to refurbish old buildings. There's also new, innovated work on the drawing board, including 23 projects that have just been given the green light by the mayor of Paris.
From a glamorous 4-star hotel to a hip budget hideaway by way of an elegant BnB, here are seven Paris inns offering unexpected oases, notable whether you're lodging there or just looking for an open-air bar away from car fumes.
Sixteen years before New York's instantly celebrated High Line opened, Paris inaugurated its own planted promenade, a strip of green cutting east-west through the 12th arrondissement along the path of old train tracks. The 3-mile long path of greenery called the Coulée Vert René-Dumont flows from near the Bastille to the Paris beltway, offering views of urban architecture along the way.
Despite the fact that Louis XIV dragged every artist he could find to Versailles in the 17th century, bringing contemporary sculpture to the palace in the 21st century has been fraught with controversy ever since the domain instituted an annual summer exhibition. Case in point, the work of Anish Kapoor presented in the palace gardens June 9 to Nov. 1, 2015.
The elegant Château de Cheverny is "chez moi" for Charles-Antoine de Vibraye and his family. Call him "marquis" if you like. His ancestors have resided on the premises for the better part of 600 years. Cheverny was one of the first private French estates to open its gates to the public, and de Vibraye welcomes on average 350,000 guests per year to his castle-sweet-castle.
Tourists in the Loire Valley generally head only for the A-list castles. But for sightseers who dislike crowds and relish the possibility of running into a congenial chateau owner, quieter slices of 16th-century splendor are a few minutes away at the Chateau de Beauregard, 3 miles southeast of Blois.
When you can't get any bigger, you just have to get better. Chambord, the massive chateau in the Loire Valley, 9 miles east of Blois, is in the midst of a major development plan (€4.5 million invested in 2014) to make the castle more user-friendly and, ultimately, self-financing.
In a delightfully exhibitionistic exhibition running February 12-July 5, 2015, Paris's Marmottan-Monet Museum examines French personal hygiene (and lack of) through the ages. (Spoiler alert: Lots of dirty pictures!)