Chateau de Valmer, the Potager
I posted photos of Chateau de Valmer on Wednesday, but I saved the ones from the potager for Weekend Cooking and Saturday Snapshot today. Potager is the French term for what Americans would call a vegetable garden or a kitchen garden, but there’s also an implication of beautiful design and the presence of some flowers.
France had a cool wet spring, so everything was a bit late. The summer vegetables were waiting in cold frames and green houses because it was too cold to put them in the ground yet. The edging of the beds was formed by twin rows of structures that held up espaliered fruit trees. These were only a bit taller than knee high, a nice height for picking.
The potager at Valmer was two levels below the chateau and invisible from that building, even though it’s a couple of acres of land. When this and the other walled gardens at Valmer were put into place, the potager was considered a working area. A couple of centuries later when Marie Antoinette made the country lifestyle fashionable, a grand stairway was built from the level above down to the potager allowing for attractive access. That stairway is in one of the photos I posted on Wednesday.
We saw insect houses a couple of different places in France. I want one. It looks like modern sculpture but has a purpose of bringing beneficial insects near the vegetables. Here, Alix, our guide and the Countess de Saint Venant, explained the different insect habitats.
At the end of our tour of Valmer, on a day which had been rainy off and on, we got a beautiful bit of sunshine, just as we approached this charming tower at the corner of the potager. This once housed the gardener tasked with keeping a watchful eye over the produce at night.
There are more photos of our time at Valmer on my Flickr page: Joy’s Photostream.
The Weekend Cooking post at Beth Fish Reads today features her popular Kitchen Journal series where she shares what’s going on in her kitchen: Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journals 11. Check that post for links to other bloggers’ posts about their food-related adventures at home and abroad.
Find other photos around the web today for Saturday Snapshot at West Metro Mommy Reads.
Oh wow. I’m not sure what else I can say. I love the photos and your writeup. I’ve never heard of an insect house, so I must investigate. Oh, and I love the round tower for the night gardener.
Beautiful photos, esp. the last one. Looks like a fairy tale setting in a movie. 😉
Love the last picture – quite the “hobbit” looking home!
That is lovely, and must be such hard work for them keeping it that way. I’ve seen insect houses before, but not on that grand scale – it’s a postive insect palace. My Snapshot is at http://goo.gl/s0KyN
An insect house…huh. You learn something new everyday! Your photos are very nice, Joy, and I feel like I am taking a trip with you. Thanks for sharing.
I always wanted to have espaliered fruit trees.
Wow you are having such interesting trip.
I love that wee tower..I want one in my yard..lol
Lovely, Joy. I had forgotten that word “potager” – the best one I’ve seen was at Villandry. Cheers
I’m loving all the photos of your trip!!
Goodness! Gardening (even for the kitchen) was clearly super-involved back in the day. That round tower is precious, and something I’ve never heard of before. Thanks for sharing those photos and stories!
Such beautiful photos! It sounds like you had the trip of a lifetime, thanks for sharing this with us.
An interesting history lesson and beautiful photos! I think Downton Abbey should do an episode focused on the estate’s kitchen garden sometime!
So interesting. Insect house, that’s different.
What an experience!! I love everything about these photos…they transported me to France.
Thanks for sharing…and for visiting my blog.
We have a very wee potager (and I do mean VERY!) so seeing one like this both overwhelms me with the work and sets my taste buds savoring!
I meant to say thank you for stopping by The Marmelade Gypsy — we’ve been on holiday and I am behind visiting Parisian spots like yours!
I’ve discovered two insect houses this trip- I’d not seen them before. They certainly look fascinating, how wonderful to have someone explain them. What a trip you had.