Every year, more than 400,000 guests are drawn to Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire 185 km (115 miles) from Paris to visit the International Garden Festival held in one of the breathtaking French castles. In 2016 the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary, throughout its history it has been blending botany, science, history, and poetry, uncovering new landscapers, architects, designers, and gardeners from all over the world. For the past 8 years, Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire has also been incorporating contemporary art.
Art and nature go together so well and when art transforms gardens into installations, it makes the experience even more precious. 24 small gardens of tomorrow, where artists from all over the world predict what will grow in our gardens in the future create a beautiful labyrinth, a warm and cozy space, where you can spend the whole day, or even make a weekend of it. If you are traveling around Loire, at some point you can have too much even of the most spectacular castles, so Chaumont-sur-Loire will become a much-needed shift of attention.
With great respect to its rich artistic history (dating back to XI century), the chateau has been conducting a thriving and diversified program since 2008, becoming a year round center of gravity for contemporary art. So apart from gazing at the architectural marvel, at the gardens of tomorrow, besides reading about its dynamic and captivating history, you can admire installations and sculptures that bring an entirely new domain to Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire.
Each year Chaumont-sur-Loire welcomes a dozen new artists. Some create site-specific objects for the permanent collection and are invited to stay on the property in residence, together with the field director they determine the project. Others bring their works just for one season, or come back the next season with new installations, just like Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui winner of the Golden Lion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. He designed a work for the Historical Park, as a counterpoint to the extraordinary shimmering gold and silver sculpture that he has already set up in the Hayloft Gallery. Also in the Historical park you can see Andy Goldsworthy’s unique piece where the vegetation interacts with the stones of an unexpected “cairn” that the fresh shoots of a chopped down plane tree will eventually embrace. 2016 will also mark the return to Chaumont-sur-Loire of Italian artist Giuseppe Penone, with a new bronze sculpture for the Domaine. Every three years, the Regional Council Centre Val de Loire advises which works should remain for the next 3-year period, but the final say belongs to Chantal Colleu-Dumond – Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire Director and exhibition curator.
Chantal Colleu-Dumond has not only been the director of the chateau from 2008, but also became the International Garden Festival’s director. This year “Gardens of the world to come” dwell on major challenges our world will face in the future. Today’s gardens are a place for relaxation, meditation and deliberation, “Gardens of the world to come” belong to innovation and experimentation. Ecological research, scientific and technical investigations of all types observe, fertilize and reinvent this ever-changing world.
Permaculture, transgenesis, bio control, aquaponics, hydroponics, green chemistry, phytoremediation, vertical farms, synergistic vegetable plots… Gardeners, landscape designers and artists become scientists reinventing this universe, justifying permanent evolution. They combine tradition, ecology and technological progress with humanistic, artistic and poetic imagination.
Groups from France, US, UK, Belgium, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, Korea and other countries make us think twice about climate change and rising sea levels by introducing floating gardens. Their surprising works raise awareness through art and plant breeding. Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire is a perfect combination of art, nature, science, history and futurism, ?he place for relaxation, BREATHing fresh air… just don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent, all insects seem to be extra-hungry these days! If you are the one, who is hungry and feel like grabbing a bite after an eventful visit, there are tearooms, a gourmet restaurant and a pasta restaurant. Most dishes are organic, made with local products and change according to the season. If you are travelling by car we suggest taking a picnic blanket and sitting by the gardens and inspiring art pieces with a thermos and a sandwich. The parking by the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire is free. If you prefer getting here by train, take Paris Austerlitz - Orléans - Tours line, get off at Onzain / Chaumont-sur-Loire; or the Paris-St Pierre des Corps TGV (high-speed train) line then change onto the St Pierre des Corps- Onzain / Chaumont-sur-Loire line. Exhibitions are open from April to November 10 am to 6 pm in winter the times slightly change.
Visiting in August, you have a chance to see spectacular gardens at night! After it gets dark, Chaumont-sur-Loire takes on new dimensions, magnified by cunningly positioned LED lighting whose colors, luminescence and reflections reveal the unseen aspects, unexpected and mysterious ambiences. If you are planning to come in October, you will be in time for All-Saints holidays: “Autumn Splendours”, when the Domaine invites everyone to take part in special events, walks and discoveries of rare plants. In winter the gardens are not that diverse and rather low-key, but still beautiful in greenhouses, kitchen gardens, Stables and Farmyard despite the cold and bad weather. And during Christmas time Chaumont-sur-Loire becomes a magical place to visit with candlelight events and musical concerts. See you there soon!