• Loire Travels

    29th July 2015Places to VisitStephanie Donaldson

    the river Loire I’ve been on my travels again – this time to the Loire Valley – a place that is dear to my heart. I spent some time there twenty years ago and have been several times since and there are always old haunts to revisit and discoveries to be made.

    Chateau du Rivau

    Chateau du Rivau raised beds at Chateau du Rivau

    This small chateau at Lemere near Chinon is set amongst fields of corn and surrounded by fourteen different themed gardens. It is part medieval and part Renaissance and has the classic turreted towers of a fairy tale castle that charms rather than intimidates. For the past 18 years the restoration of the chateau and the creation of the gardens has been the work of Patricia Laigneau and her family who have turned it into a place that combines the traditional with the quirky and the contemporary. The Courtyard contains an impressive potager which overflows with produce and is famous for its autumn squashes and pumpkins. Caroline, Patricia’s daughter who took me round the garden told me that all the food grown in the potager is served at their restaurant.

    orchard at the Chateau sculpture at Chateau du Rivau

    There’s also an orchard, deep borders, a scented rose garden, wooded walks with sculptures and even a quiet dell hung with hammocks where visitors can lie back and gaze up into the trees. It is all charming with a real sense of Patricia’s guiding hand in how it has been developed. Her personal taste shines through and although not everything appealed to me I admire her panache and think that she and her family have done a terrific job in making it a place well worth visiting.