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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

March 2005 Issue

En Route to Chaumont
The 2005 Chaumont Festival is just one of the landscape attractions of the Loire River Valley.

By Lake Douglas

En Route to Chaumont
Loire Valley Tourist Board

Gaining momentum each year, the International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire continues to attract international attention while serving as a laboratory for provocative design ideas. The festival revolves around a different theme each year, and this year’s is “Gardens Have Memory” (Les jardins ont de la mémoire). The gardens are open from April 30 to October 16, and admission is inexpensive: Adult tickets cost €8.50 (less for groups), children 8–12 are admitted for €3.50, and those under 8 can get in for free. For more information, see the festival’s web site at www.chaumont-jardins.com. (Basic knowledge of French will be helpful on this site, as it is not in English and not all material about the festival is available in translation.)

The town of Chaumont-sur-Loire is conveniently situated in a region that should appeal to landscape architects; time spent here is an ideal complement to the festival. Nearby are many opportunities to visit spectacular châteaux and their adjacent gardens, and, of course, this region is one of the centers of the French wine industry. The Loire Valley (see www.visaloire.com) is easily accessible by tgv (the fast train) from Paris. You can explore the territory on canoe (see www.canoe-regioncentre.org), on bicycle (see www.chateauxavelo.com), or by rental car (travel tip: Make rental car reservations before leaving America, and you’ll save money). There are ample accommodations in the region appropriate for every budget from student to luxury, but don’t expect Hiltons or Sheratons: Most options are small and intimate, and in many cases you’ll have the opportunity to meet the owners and other guests. One option is the three-star Château des Tertres, conveniently located 4 kilometers from Chaumont, 17 kilometers from Blois and Amboise, and 25 kilometers from Chenonceau and Chambord; it has a variety of accommodations between €68 and €108 (see www.chateau-tertres.com  for rates and accommodations). Local tourist offices can provide additional lists and contact information.

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