Without question, the finest botanical region in France is the Champagne-Ardenne. So extensive are its gardens that it even has its own classification system (the usual 'stars' replaced by 'flowers'). Sixteen villages and cities have received the top four 'flowers', with 133 receiving three, not to mention the hundreds more classified as twos and ones. Even driving through the region is like swimming through an immense sea of flowers. Needless to say, arriving at the gardens themselves you are instantly surrounded by an explosion of floral colour and beauty.
The Grand Jardin at Joinville is one of the finest France has to offer and attracts flower enthusiasts from all over Europe. Inside, wander amongst the carefully tended flower beds and rare fruit trees, discovering modern sculptures alongside 16th century architecture. The beautifully laid out beds and stunning castle centre-piece give these gardens their typically romantic feel. All year round, the gardens host a variety of events, from classical concerts to art exhibitions so check out what's on before you go.
La Presle Botanical Garden, situated between Reims and Epernay, offers a walk through plants that have been collected and nurtured here for 17 years. Influences from Kyrgyzstan, Anatolia, the Balkans, and Sierra Nevada have resulted in an incredible collection of alpine wall roses and fruit trees - not forgetting the Caucasian labyrinth, complete with topiary meticulously pruned into the shapes of monsters. In 2005, this garden was named a 'Jardin remarquable' by the ministry of culture, recognizing 17 years of careful selection and care of the plants here.
The Botanical Garden at Marnay-sur-Seine is also great for learning about over 3000 different species of plant. As well as the wide range of species, the garden also promotes and preserves biodiversity and environmental protection. Finally, end the weekend amongst the varied flowers of the three Jards de Châlons-en-Champagne. Composed of Petit Jard, Grand Jard and Jard Anglais, these contemporary gardens are spread out over three Parisian parks, giving you a huge variety of species to see.A weekend visiting the castles of the Loire Valley A weekend of outdoor activities in the Baie de Somme