As nature comes back to life and the sun shines brighter, there’s nothing better than spending time outside and breathing in some fresh air. In spring and summer, Eure et Loir’s parks and gardens explode with vibrant colours and intoxicating scents of flowers blooming! Here’s a round-up of our favorite gardens to explore in Eure et Loir.
The French gardens of the Château de Maintenon
The gardens of the Château de Maintenon are a prime example of just how exquisite French gardens can be. Designed by André Le Nôtre, King Louis XIV’s famous gardener, these gardens are known as “jardins à la française” (literally gardens in the French manner), belong to a style of garden based on symmetry, aesthetic perfection and the principle of imposing order on nature. A great challenge for Le Nôtre, who built his reputation on fulfilling the King’s greatest dreams. The gardens of the Château de Maintenon spread out between the château and the aqueduct, and you can enjoy a superb panoramic view from the towers of the château which overlook the gardens.
Marcel Proust's beloved Pré Catelan
The history of Illiers is closely connected to the French author Marcel Proust who used to spend his holidays there as a child, staying with his aunt and uncle. The village was later renamed Illiers-Combray in homage to him. Nowadays, you can follow in the footsteps of little Marcel to explore the village, starting with the church and its painted roof structure, then by visiting the Marcel Proust Museum housed in his family’s former residence. This exact place is where Marcel used to savour shell-shaped madeleines dipped in tea, an overwhelming taste that would always remind him of his childhood. Finish your tour at the Pré Catelan, a peaceful and intimate English style garden that young Marcel was particularly fond of and where you can sample a delicious Proust madeleine! Soak up the bucolic atmosphere by the meandering stream, surrounded by lush vegetation, dovecotes and other nesting boxes for birds. Here abides, as well, a variety of wild animals. A perfect setting to relax, indulge in the moment and appreciate the beauty of nature along the banks of the river Loir.
The Medieval Garden of Bois Richeux
Bois Richeux, built in the heart of the forest called la Forêt des Carnutes, is one of France’s oldest farms. It first belonged to a druidess named Richeulde, hence the name of the estate. During the Middle Ages it became a place of pilgrimage on the way to the Holy Land. In the 17th century, the estate became the property of "Madame de Maintenon" (the last mistress of Louis XIV) and remained in her family for over three centuries. Legend has it that a tunnel even connects the farm of Bois Richeux to the Château de Maintenon.
The thematic gardens of the Abbey of the Holy Trinity
Head to Thiron-Gardais to explore the glorious gardens surrounding two great heritage buildings: the Abbey of the Holy Trinity and the Royal and Military College.
Dating back to the 15th century, the monastic gardens of the Abbey appeal to all the senses. Visitors are encouraged to stroll around the vegetable garden, the beds of medicinal herbs, the orchards, the rose garden, the fishpond. A perfect place to combine a fun day out in the outdoors while taking in a breath of fresh air! You’ll also find entertainment on site: an educational game about fragrances with hidden bottles to find in the garden. There is also an escape game to bring together your team.
Discover marvelous blooms and breathtaking displays of horticulture in the French gardens of the Collège Royal et Militaire, now the residence of Stéphane Bern (French journalist and TV host passionate about French heritage). An absolute pleasure to visit, amble through the garden in spring just as the roses begin to flower. Plus, enjoy a delicious, local fresh juice called “My Jardin” beneath the orange grove and admire the scene that surrounds you.
The Park de la Duchaylatière
Here’s another haven of peace for a natural oxygen intake in the south of Eure et Loir. The Parc de la Duchaylatière belongs to Jean Pierre Coffe, a French food critic as well as a radio and television presenter. You can even stay overnight in this oasis of greenery as it boasts a cottage on site. Wonderful and inspiring gardens to discover and to allow you to reconnect with nature!
Top 5 most beautiful Parks & Gardens in Eure et Loir
Domaine de l’AbbayeTHIRON-GARDAIS
In the historic surroundings of the Abbaye de la Sainte Trinité, these themed gardens invite you on a reflective, sensory voyage through nature. Bursting with exuberant colours, scents and flavours, notes in Nature's timeless symphony.Read more
Château de MaintenonMAINTENON
Enter the "secret gardens" of the Sun King. Discover the furnished home of Madame de Maintenon, whose eternal youth charmed Louis XIV the all-powerful.Read more
Le Pré CatelanILLIERS-COMBRAY
Swann Park on the banks of the Loir, designed by Proust's uncle, is a place charged with romance and atmosphere. Based on the informal style garden, it made a profound mark on the author.Read more
Jardin de la Duchaylatière by Jean-Pierre CoffeSAINT-DENIS-LANNERAY
Discover many different species and varieties when you visit La Duchaylatière Park, a 2 hectare landscaped garden planted with trees, designed by Jean-Pierre Coffe.Read more
Collège Royal et Militaire de Thiron-GardaisTHIRON-GARDAIS
In the old classrooms you can discover a rare collection of objects and documents retracing the almost 1000 year-old history of the Abbaye de Tiron, the establishment of the college and the creation of twelve French Royal and military colleges.Read more