Our previous visit to France was in winter and, much as we wished to see Villandry and its gardens, it was closed for the season. Getting there was a high priority on this trip and, I’m glad to say, the effort was very worthwhile. The chateau was built in about 1536 by Jean le Breton, but the gardens date from as recently as the early 1900s.
I took a minibus tour from the Office de Tourisme in Tours, probably the easiest way if you are not driving. On the 17km drive, the tour guide briefed us that the gardens are the main point of interest, the interior apparently is not overly impressive. I should also add that visiting time on the trips is somewhat limited, as the tour buses visit two chateaux in their half-day trips.
It is an understatement to say that the formal gardens are amazing, probably it’s best to let the photos speak for themselves. There even are formal gardens of vegetables such as lettuces and cabbages! To keep everything looking right, a team of 30 gardeners is employed in the summer and 15 in the winter!
It seems the gardens are now open year round for unguided visits. The hours vary, but typically are 0900 – 1700 in the winter and 0900 – 1900 in summer. The chateau is open from 4 February to 12 November, typically from 0900, but the times and dates are complex, so I would suggest you check the chateau’s website.