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French-style gardens : the ornamental square lawns of castle grounds

French-style gardens : the ornamental square lawns of castle grounds

As a classical expression of the hunt for perfection through landscaping, French-style gardens are the hallmark of the world’s most prestigious castles.

French-style gardens : the ornamental square lawns of castle grounds

They are admired by gardeners of the entire world, and any castle is made even more beautiful with these external signs of wealth. Originally inspired by the square lawns that surround Italian palaces, the theatrical and beautifully designed French-style garden was created by the horticulturist and agronomist Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie during the reign of Louis XIV in the 18th century.

French-style castles and gardens

This highly sophisticated form of plant-based art reached its zenith in the expert hands of André Le Nôtre, who succeeded in mastering nature while instilling a certain amount of elegance. Large swaths of land surrounding the homes of the aristocracy were remodelled around ponds, fountains, and statues, and special attention was paid to the use of geometry, parallelism, and perspective.

Château de Chenonceau French-style gardens
The gardens of the Château de Chenonceau, shown here from a helicopter, are an excellent example of French-style gardens. © DR
Château de Breteuil French-style gardens
The gardens at Château de Breteuil include a delightful labyrinth you can walk through. © DR

The rigor and refinement of a classical art form

Featuring planted walls that have been carefully trimmed to form curtains, lawns groomed to create designs similar to fabric or lace, and coats of arms made from box hedges, these ordered gardens function as an extension of the castle walls themselves. The harmony of this refined style, which differs from the romantic English-style garden, continues to fascinate aficionados of classical gardens.

Château de Villandry French-style gardens
The flowerbeds on the terrace of Château de Villandry, which are among the most beautiful in all of France, attract crowds of admirers during the summer. © DR