The fabulous French vegetable garden of the Chateau du Rivau

Written by on October 10, 2013 in Centre, Museums and Châteaux

french vegetable garden

A very special French vegetable garden, a jardin potager, deep in the heart of the Loire at the fairy tale Chateau du Rivau yields its autumn bounty and beauty to French garden expert and writer Georges Lévêque…

Patricia Laigneau has a vegetable garden – no ordinary vegetable garden this, it is in the grounds of the beautiful and ancient Chateau du Rivau.

Patricia calls it “the garden of Gargantua” because of the historical roots that bind this magnificent castle to the works of the famous medieval French author Rabelais (circa 1494-1553).

October is a great month to visit and see the plentiful vegetables in a wealth of shapes and colours and I can guarantee that after a visit to Rivau, you will never look at pumpkins in the same way. Patricia explains her work in the garden:

french vegetable garden

“After entering the grand Renaissance door of Rivau, you enter a confined and wonderful world reflecting the tremendous exhilaration of Rabelais. A gargantuan feast is actually drawn in the courtyard, inspired by Master Francis, who in the Rabelais book Gargantua, offered the Chateau du Rivau to the valiant captain Tolmère as a reward”.

“The shape of the garden serves to remind the visitor of the agricultural history of this site and to recall the equestrian history of the Chateau. The stables at Rivau were created in 1510 and supplied royal stallions to the French Kings.  The gardens are also an homage to Rabelais our “great bawdy, botanist and thinker”. The half-moon garden of Gargantua, referring to a horseshoe and the epicurean Rabelais, heralds the delights of the gardens of the castle! Flowers are intertwined with an array of squash, pumpkins and sprouts of all colours and sizes. Dahlias in simple red and white flowers and scarlet nasturtiums attract beneficial insects and provide the perfect colour foil.

french vegetable garden

Having the flowers co-exist with the cucurbits really aids pollination and provides much benefit; for instance nasturtiums protect against the dreaded cabbage fly. The plants are treated only with nettle manure… Mulching limits the onset of weeds, and at the end of the season, the fruits are raised off the ground to prevent their decay.

french vegetable garden “Pumpkins are chosen for their gargantuan size, flaming pumpkins named Gargantua, Etampes and Gros de Paris, the bluish skins of the Hungarian Pumpkins are highlighted, the pretty little Melonnettes Vendée and curious Turbans Aladdin – we select all of our pumpkins for their texture and colour.

“Rows of cabbages intermingle with pumpkins: bluish dyed cabbage Cabs, black sprouts of Tuscany, purple red cabbage, curly cabbage from Milan. The Artichokes represent chandeliers of the open table and leeks and vibrant chard add rhythm and aromatize these living edible tapestries.

“This feast in the garden attracts peacocks from the other gardens and we have to protect the vegetables to stop them making a feast of it! The vegetables we grow here will be served in the restaurant of the Chateau and we offer a different variety of pumpkin soup every day during the holidays of Toussaints (All Saints)”.

french vegetable garden

The garden of Gargantua is one of fourteen gardens of Rivau which are designated a Jardin Remarquable. All are inspired by fairy tales and legends of the Middle Ages where you can follow in the footsteps of goblins, ogres, giants and fairies in an extravagant fantasy world of gardens and the beautiful chateau.

See the website for details of opening times and events: www.chateaudurivau

Paris author, journalist and gardener Georges Lévêque: georgeslevequejardins.com

Related Articles

Visit to the Chateau de Versailles

When Louis XIV was pondering over how to create the most magnificent palace the world had ever seen, one that truly showed off his glory and absolute power, he can’t have had any idea just how many people would tread in his footsteps and gaze in wonder at his legacy. The Chateau de Versailles is […]

Continue Reading

Mulhouse Train Museum | Cité du Train

When it comes to the Cité du train at Mulhouse, you don’t to be a train buff or train spotter, an anorak or a ferroequinologist (someone who studies trains) to get steamed up about a visit. This incredible museum is a fabulous place on so many levels. History, engineering, social history but overall – it’s […]

Continue Reading

Museums, Monuments and Arts Venues of Lille

Lille in northern France is one of the most cultural cities in the country. There are more than a dozen museums and art venues in the city and every three years or so Lille goes arty-party mad with a major several-months-long art festival known as Lille3000 in public buildings and the streets. Palais des Beaux […]

Continue Reading

What to see and do in Orleans, Loire Valley

Julius Caesar was here. The English were here, and because of that, Joan of Arc was here. It seems throughout history, Orleans in the Loire Valley has established its place as a principal city in France (and it was the most important city after Paris during the 10th and 11th Centuries). While today most people […]

Continue Reading

7 things to do in Tours in the Loire Valley

There’s a whole lot to see and do in Tours in the heart of the Loire Valley. It’s easy to reach from Paris by train and provides a great base to visit the area. There are several of the major Loire Valley Chateaux nearby and you can organise a tour by coach or mini bus […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top