Saturday, 5 December 2015

Flowers and Baubles

Every year the chateau of Chenonceau staff decorate the interior for Christmas and New Year. The floral workshop and the gardeners are in charge of achieving this Herculean task, working for several weeks to produce gorgeous and creative arrangements in every room. Between 800 and 900 fresh flowers are used, replaced at least once a week by the in house florist, who makes the round trip to the famous wholesale flower market of Rungis in Paris to source the blooms at this time of year.

 All this plant material and glitter is somewhat worrying on antique furniture. It simply wouldn't be allowed if the table had any provenance for Catherine de Medici or Diane de Poitiers, but the truth is it doesn't, and it is seen as replaceable.
 Red roses on everything, displayed on a pietra dura table. There is always a flower arrangement on this table, so it probably doesn't matter if it gets scratched.
The colour theme for Christmas is usually some variation on white, silver, gold and red combinations and includes lots foliage and decorative non-floral elements. The grandest arrangement is a Christmas tree, nearly 5 m high, positively dripping with 1800 decorations. Another tree, half the size, is set up in another room and decorated to appeal particularly to children. Last year there was a third stupendous tree, in Louise of Lorraine's bedroom. In the gloom of this atmospheric room it blazed with light.

 Forced hyacinths and very cute pine cone hedgehogs.
The kitchens, set in the great pilons that supported the medieval waterwheel before the chateau even existed, always have a luxuriant and food oriented display.

 Owls and poinsettia.

 The tree in Louise of Lorraine's room last year.
This special Christmas display is only on for a month, from early December to just after New Year. The chateau is open every day (yes, really, every day!). Surprisingly few people visit and it is extraordinarily generous of the chateau's owners and management to continue this gorgeous spectacle. For more pictures of last year's display see our post here.

 White roses in Catherine de Medici's study.
If you've ever been to Chenonceau you will know that their fabulous flower arrangements are one of the highlights, but they always surpass themselves with the Christmas display. Don't miss it if you are in the area.


GaynorB said...

A magnificent display. We once visited at Easter and the arrangements were spectacular.

Sheila said...

Always enjoy this annual post, Susan. Having the job of going to the flower market sounds appealing
to me....except for the drive. Amazing to think of a bouquet of amaryllis as in the second photo. Just a
pleasure to have one or two forced bulbs produce blooms.

Susan said...

Do hippeastrums not grow outside or in a shade house for you in Texas? or is it because you like to have them flowering in the winter?

chm said...

I'd be a liar if I said I like any of these displays. IMHO it is too much time and money spend for this effort. I'd rather go to a simple florist shop. To each his own!

In second thought, maybe it looks better in the flesh and in situ!

Susan said...

They are truly magnificent, but I agree with you from the point of view of how they've chosen to spend their money. The ROI can't be worth it in terms of expenditure versus numbers of extra visitors to the chateau, or even in terms of elevated visitor experience. I don't know what the flower budget is, but it must be substantial (more than the cost of a solution to the sorry state of the Guards room floor ? I ask myself...)

Susan said...

Easter is good, but it is always at Christmas time that they really excel themselves.

Sheila said...

No, they wouldn't survive here in Texas. One does see them in So. California in gardens:
however, they always look a bit fragile/sickly. Their blooms in the house in December are
always a delight.

lejardindelucie said...

C'est magnifique!
Merci de ce partage! Belle semaine à vous!

Susan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to more on your blog from your current Australian trip.

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