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Chateau du Pin, Champtoce sur Loire, France, the Gignoux Castle and Gardens
The gardens of Chateau du Pin are magnificent at any time of the year. I came to France in my teens to help in the vineyard and in the kitchen and found a great source of inspiration that would stay with me and fortify my love for landscape architecture. The formal gardens were designed and built for my relatives, Gerard and Claudine Gignoux in the 1920's. On this 300 acre parcel of land that runs along the Loire River, there is a famous topiary garden, terraced gardens with reflecting pools, rose gardens, a moat, iris gardens, a potager (vegetable and cutting flower garden), 100 acres of vineyards, farmland and woodlands with trails and a beautiful chapel.

The chateau was built in the 12th century on what is believed to be the remains of a Roman opium warehouse. The original chateau was destroyed during the Breton Wars in the 14th century. The main wing of the chateau was partially rebuilt in the 15th century with the original tower and wine cellar dating back to the 12th century. A chapel and other wings and buildings were constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries. The chapel was dedicated in 1711 to the Virgin Mary and is built in Plantagenet style. The fleur de lys floor tiles date from the 16th century. The stained glass windows celebrate the life of the Virgin Mary and are from the 18th century.

Gerard and Claudine Gignoux purchased and restored the chateau in 1919 and built the extraordinary topiary gardens and vineyard. Claudine, a well known landscape painter, painted the murals on the chateau walls. Le Pin is officially classified as a 'Monument Historique' by the French government and the gardens are part of the 'Des Jardins Remarquables' designated by the Ministry of Culture and Communication.

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