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Gar­den­ing en­thu­si­asts will have a field day on Les Plus Beaux Jardins de France (lesplus­beaux­jardins­de­france.com). Take a vir­tual step through the gates of im­pres­sive manors such as the Château de Cham­bord or the Do­maine de Chan­tilly and ap­pre­ci­ate the flo­ral splen­dour of their metic­u­lously main­tained grounds. In to­tal, 14 gar­dens are a mem­ber of the scheme, each with their own sec­tion on the web­site. The gar­dens are se­lected against a strict cri­te­ria: they have to be very well-known and open to lots of peo­ple; rec­om­mended by all the ma­jor guide­books; per­fectly main­tained by pro­fes­sional gar­den­ers; open ev­ery day be­tween Easter and Tous­saint; fi­nally, they should of­fer an ex­cel­lent wel­come. Each gar­den is ac­com­pa­nied by a mini guide, in­clud­ing a his­tor­i­cal back­ground, to help you plan your trip. In some cases there are even videos of the gar­dens so you can ex­plore from the com­fort of your home. There is also a use­ful sec­tion on styles of gar­dens in France, so keen gar­den­ers can recre­ate their favourite styles at home. You’ll recog­nise the Jardin à la Française, with in­tri­cate hedges and top­i­ary, but you might not have seen a bam­bouseraie –a bam­boo gar­den – be­fore.

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