Cross the Loire.
Deconfined, on the front line.
Almost an impression of entering the free zone, to sow this damn virus.
This Monday May 3 at 9 a.m., a visitor, and not two, just one in the morning, like a knowledgeable scout, opened the season at Clos-Lucé (Indre-et-Loire), the last home of Leonardo da Vinci , opposite the castle of his friend and patron François Ier.
The manor of the father of the Mona Lisa had just put its ticket office online, after six months of closure.
For the 2 pm schedule, on the site, there were 199 places available… out of 200.
A symbol, these first isolated Monday walkers who benefit for themselves only from the park - the residence, it will not open until May 19 - crossed by the Amasse, tributary of the Loire, and which houses the twenty giant models built in from the plans of Leonardo da Vinci, architect and mathematician as much as painter, while the flora reconstitutes the landscapes of his paintings.
Le Clos Lucé in Amboise (Indre-et-Loire) housed the last years of Leonardo da Vinci.
Giant models built from his plans stand in the gardens.
LP / Jean-Baptiste Quentin
If museums are still waiting to know the reception gauges before launching their ticket office, some large parks on the Loire play softness in minor mode.
"We want to bring some life back to Amboise to invite people to come, now that we can travel again," says one at Clos Lucé.
On this reopening Monday, 55 visitors in total, including Ile-de-France residents, including Parisians, but also Bretons, Alsatians and Mosellans, will have been able to enjoy the park.
"Chaumont in the spring, normally, it's a beehive"
The heart is racing and is also enthusiastic a few kilometers further, on the other bank of the river, in the area of Chaumont-sur-Loire (Loir-et-Cher), including the Gothic castle, property of Catherine de Médicis then by Diane de Poitiers, also accelerates his awakening. The building, which houses a magnificent exhibition of landscapes by the painter Paul Rebeyrolle, will open on May 19, like the museums. But the immense gardens, and their international festival which annually hosts around thirty contemporary creations by landscapers, will be accessible to the public from this Saturday, May 8. The news broke on Monday. Against all odds, including the vagaries of the weather.
The frost has delayed the growth of these works of art gardens. And everything must be reinvented as a matter of urgency, from the price of the ticket - which is usually coupled with the castle and its exhibitions - to welcoming the public with a strict protocol. “We worked in difficult conditions. Chaumont in the spring, normally, is a beehive, between artists and landscapers. We couldn't accommodate the teams. We were slowed down, ”says Chantal Colleu-Dumond, one of the leading international specialists in contemporary gardens, director of the Chaumont estate for the past twelve years.
This Thursday, April 29, she takes us around the owner, between a watering can lying around and a locksmith who is building an ephemeral kiosk for a sofa and “mother-in-law's cushions”, sorry cactus, a mischievous work.
In 2020, Chaumont-sur-Loire and its extraordinary gardens welcomed 330,000 visitors instead of the annual 500,000 before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their presence is economically vital.
Do not wait another day, and above all, "create emotion", as the soul of the place says.
The theme of ephemeral gardens this year, "biomimicry", with its minimal approach, is in tune with the times: this expression means the use of what nature offers, the smallest chip of a tree as a breeding ground, not water too much, flow into the magic of the place.
Distancing and contemplation
Like Pierre-Alexandre Risser, landscaper in full creation this Thursday of his "forest garden" near Goualoup, the meadows of the estate. At first, you hardly see anything, before being caught by these young maple trees arranged as in a Japanese painting around a pond. We would listen to him for hours discussing the hydrangea, or explaining how the less we maintain, the better it lives. "A successful garden is one whose limits we do not read", he sums up. So we slide from one to the other, like glades in a forest. A giant termite mound that children can climb into - there is also room for an adult - introduces natural air conditioning: warm outside, cool inside. Lots of blue, not in the sky this April 29,but in these artistic creations which use all types of materials associated with plants and water. A young landscaper has reconstructed a miniature quay of the Loire and two islets in a tiny area.
A giant termite mound introduces natural air conditioning: hot outside, cool inside.
Domaine de Chaumont
Here, distancing is almost a mode of contemplation.
We rush through the historic park, discover the permanent contemporary sculptures, like a rebus to reconstitute from an immensity of lawns to a hidden grove.
We are approaching the Loire.
No benches on the hillside, but a seat, only one, a work of art, on which you can sit to admire the perfection of the wild river.
No river route.
Just a pristine landscape that the whole world envies us.
Happiness at the end of a TER.