Our visit to Chateau de Courances (link to the English version of the website) was one of my favorite parts of our garden tour in France. Courances is named for the running water on the property, including many springs. All this water is channeled into pools, canals, and waterfalls giving the place both peacefulness and energy. I could have stayed forever.
Our guide at Courances was one of the owning family members, Valentine de Ganay. We all liked her shoes and the basket she used instead of a purse. We also liked her keen sense of garden design and history.
Here’s a view of the chateau with the back reflecting pool.
The monster spitting water is one of 14 on the property. Originally, all 14 were installed around one large rectangular pond. In a later redesign of the garden, they were distributed around the property which gives a sense of consistency among the spaces.
Here I am being glad that I do squats as part of my Readers’ Workouts. I was sampling the water from the Louis XIII Spring. When King Louis was in residence at nearby Fontainebleau, he sent people to this spring to fetch his drinking water because it tasted so good. Who am I to argue with a king? Since there’s a limestone base in that area of France, like in Missouri, it reminded me of the well water at my mother-in-law’s house.
There’s a fun area near the house with three different garden features. The oldest is probably from the Renaissance. Called “The Dome” because it once had a domed wood roof, it’s an area just far enough away from the house that you could sneak away during an outdoor party, but just close enough that you could continue to spy on events. Valentine, with the help of a gardener reconstructed the base from its ruins which gave a spot for our group to gather.
Behind The Dome, there’s a Victorian-era folly consisting of 4 columns as if they are ruins from a Greek temple or something.
The problem, then, with the reconstructed Dome was that it rather competed and contrasted with the folly. Of course, the folly is the interloper here, but it’s over a hundred years old. It’s not like you can just tear it down. Can you imagine having to honor the work of generations of gardeners going back 500 years when ever you make a decision in your yard? I had a hard enough time letting go of the arched trellis that was falling apart when we bought the house. And, I still take great care of the clematis that climbed up it.
Valentine credits her mother with the idea to pull them all together. The design principle is that if you have two things that compete, then add a third competing thing and somehow it all comes into balance again. So the new addition is a collection of modern garden toad stools hiding under a nearby shrub. I love it!
We ate lunch that day on the Courances estate in the old Foulerie, the building where hemp was crushed before making it into rope or fabric.
There are many more photos of Courances (I had a hard time choosing!) on my Flickr page: Joy’s Photostream.
I’m linking this post up to today’s Dreaming of France meme at An Accidental Blog. Check out Paulita’s post for more links to French-themed posts this Monday.