And their fragrances!
The Loire climate is particularly well adapted to roses, and you will often see them in gardens in Touraine. The colour of roses can be combined to form an attractive picture with subtle fragrances as well. The village of Chédigny, the Château du Rivau (Lémeré) and the Chemins de la Rose rose garden (Doué-la-Fontaine) provide a great “Roses” getaway in the Loire valley with a visit to all three sites, as well as a few others nearby.
The meaning of rose colours
The queen of flowers has been grown in China and Persia for over 5000 years. Roses have a powerful symbolism that has developed over time.
Several legends are linked to roses. In Greek mythology, the rose was a nymph brought back to life by Chloris (the goddess of flowers), embellished by Aphrodite, perfumed by Dionysus, and given all its charm by the Three Graces.
As for the rose’s thorns, Roman mythology saw them as Cupid’s arrows. But let’s return to the present. In the language of flowers, in the garden and at the florist’s, rose colours convey a very precise meaning:
- Red roses: the colour of passion and love. A variety: Souvenir de Claudius Denoyel.
- Pink roses: the perfect symbol of romanticism and beauty. A variety: the “Quatre Saisons de Damas”.
- Orange roses: hidden love. A variety: Orange Supreme.
- Yellow roses: friendship and goodwill; perfect as a gift for someone recovering from illness! A variety: Maigold.
- White roses: pure, immaculate love, embodied, for example, by the Annapurna rose.
- Purple roses: a colour symbolising deep tenderness. A variety: “Charles de Gaulle”.
Rose getaway in the Loire Valley, from Touraine to Anjou.
Your immersion in the world of roses should be planned ideally from May to July, to see as many roses in bloom as possible. The first stop could be the garden village of Chédigny with its 1000 rose bushes (270 different species, most of which are traditional roses), growing against the walls. Nature is abundant and at one with the houses. Guided floral tours are organised all through the year, along with the great rose festival (end of May).
Then we set off to the Château du Rivau, between Chinon and Richelieu. The extraordinary gardens are home to a fragrant rose conservatory, lovingly created by Patricia Laigneau. It has the Conservatory of Specialised Plant Collections label. 450 varieties are on offer for the eyes and the nose, with the beautiful stone background of a château that comes right out of a fairy tale.
In the early 19th century, there were only a few dozen varieties of roses in France. But Napoleon’s wife, the empress Josephine, fell in love with the flower. Between 1804 and 1814, she planted almost 250 varieties of roses in the park at Malmaison. Most of what was the first big French collection of roses were Rosa gallica or French roses.
The roses had extraordinary hues and were almost always multi-coloured, from purple to pale pink via grey and even true blue. A French passion had begun. Many of them have since been lost and replaced by modern roses which bloom a second time each year. But they have neither the same range of colours nor the same fragrances. Dating from this period are La Belle Sultane, Bizarre Triomphant, Evêque, Cerisette La Jolie, Aimable Amie, Belle Sans Flatterie, Belle Hélène, Bouquet de Vénus, Pourpre Charmant and Ornement de la Nature, all in bloom in the Rivau gardens.
The end of the journey devoted to the colour of roses will take you to a rose garden. Naturally! So let’s head for Les Chemins de la Rose in Doué-la-Fontaine: in an elegant 4-hectare English-style garden, no fewer than 13,000 roses flourish and are celebrated in a wide range of events all through the year.
Sleeping and eating: Auberge Bienvenue in Doué-la-Fontaine.
One more stop with the colours of roses?
If you really love the queen of flowers, perhaps you want the fullest possible visit? Then we suggest adding a day near Tours, between the visits to Chédigny and Rivau.
The eternal resting place of the poet Pierre de Ronsard, Saint-Cosme Priory, is not to be outdone for roses, whether they are white, yellow, red or pink… The same goes for the Château de Villandry gardens, especially with the long-stemmed roses adding height to the Renaissance vegetable garden, as well as climbing roses creating floral alcoves and gentle fragrances.
See too: when should you prune your roses?