Visit the Chateau Villandry in Indre-et-Loire, Loire Valley
It was at this location that Richard the Lionheart met with Philip II of France for a 'peace summit'. The 12th century castle where the meeting took place is however almost completely submerged within the later castle, built for Jean le Breton in the early 16th century. The tower is the only remnant of the original building.
The castle as we now see it was not built for defensive purposes but for style and as a luxury residence.
Because of extensive modifications during the 18th century including removal of parts of the chateau and clearing the gardens to create an English park setting, the impressive creation we now see - both the chateau and the world-renowned gardens - are a result of the extensive renovations carried out by Dr Joachim Carvallo after he bought Villandry in 1906. The chateau at that time was in very poor condition and set to be demolished.
The castle is now best know for its elaborate and extensive French style gardens, that have been designed to closely resemble a French chateau garden during the renaissance. Le Breton had passed a great deal of time in Italy, where he had admired this new style of gardens, although the garden we see today in fact dates from the early 20th century, and the efforts of Dr Carvallo.
The large area of carefully manicured and sculpted hedging and planting at the castle is astounding, and one particular highlight is the potager (vegetable garden) - a creation as elaborate and impressive as any flower garden.
Be sure to take a global view across the gardens from the tower, as well as meandering through the 'detail' - note that the garden the other side of the canal that looks rectangular from the castle is actually not a rectangle but is designed to take into account perspective effects from the castle. Clever stuff!
Map showing location of Chateau Villandry