For my favorite gardens in the Loire, it’s gotta be Villandry. Finished in 1536, Villandry was the last great Renaissance château built on the Loire. The earliest Loire gardens were practical, grown in the Middle Ages by abbey monks who needed vegetables and medicinal herbs. Today’s beautiful gardens at Villandry — a careful reconstruction of what the 1530s original might have been — are the result of generations of passionate dedication. The châteaux of the Loire Valley have been shaped by the ups and downs of French history.