Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Chateau de Villandry
Loire Valley, France

The Chateau of Villandry is known for its extensive, exquisite parterres -- geometric gardens occupying flat ground. These fine designs in the style of the 17th Century were restored in the early 1900s using plans left by the architect DuCerceau. (Canon 24-mm, July 2000)

Another daytrip KAP expedition staged from Chinon was a visit to the Chateau of Villandry. Here I acquired permission to fly the kite from a somewhat dubious and entirely gracious director only to have the wind, or lack thereof, taunt me without mercy. As the distinguished director looked on, and my companion Rachel Strickland shot video, I ran around the upper water garden trying to get the kite aloft. The scene was reminiscent of  Woody Allen flapping his wings as he tried to fly in the film Sleeper.  My difficulties were exacerbated by the wooded ridgeline visible in the images below and its associated leeward zone. Things finally worked (barely) when I relocated to a field further downwind. 

View of the Villandry gardens from the southwest corner of the site. The maze is visible in the left image as is the large basin of the water garden on the right
(Canon 24-mm, July 2000)

The Chateau of Villandry, built on the left bank of the Cher river, is the last of the Renaissance Châteaux in the Loire Valley. It dates back to around 1532 and was originally built by Jean le Breton (François I's Secretary of State) on the former site of a fortress from the 12th century. The site is organized around the flow of water which begins in a large basin toward the rear of the grounds. The basin feeds a short canal which flows through the three levels of the garden and is broken by bridges and small waterfalls. The canal then feeds a moat that protects the three buildings that surround the main courtyard. The classical style outbuildings were built around 1754 by the chateau's new owner the Marquis de Castellane, ambassador to the King.

These views of Villandry as seen from the front are from a quick roll I took flying from an adjacent farm field. A small two-lane highway runs along the chateau's perimeter and sepataes the field from the formal grounds. These images feature the canal and the moat and one can just get a sense of the terracing that defines the upper levels of the garden. The colors in this scan are a bit off. I scanned directly from the negatives and could not get the settings quite right.  (Canon 24-mm, July 2000)

Dr. Carvallo, the chateau's last owner, began restoring the gardens in 1906 following a style dating to the 16th century. His grandson continues the work today. The common garden -- in the Middle Ages consecrated to aromatic plants, medicinal plants, and spices -- contains thirty or so varieties of plants. The decorative kitchen garden, its squares bordered by a cordon of fruit trees, is planted in vegetables of colors harmoniously chosen to evoke the monastic spirit of the Middle Ages and the esthetic of Italy in the 16th century, with its fountains, tunnels and flowery patches.

A view from the rear of Villandry's gardens showing its border with the neighboring village and a plan view of the same condition at the hedge maze. (Canon 24-mm, July 2000)

My kite flying site in the rear of the gardens featured one main handicap. It was surrounded by carefully trimed trees in double rows. The canopies of these colonnades prevented my leaving the small quadrangle and thus I could not shoot close details of the geometrical garden. Drat. By the end of my flight the kite was pulling hard and there was substantial work involved in pulling it down (figures). Still, I am pleased to have gotten some shots here and would like to return at some point to shoot the gardens from close range.

The village adjacent to the chateau (Canon 24-mm, July 2000)

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