Partner Garden
Free access for RHS members at selected times

7 rue du château
18200 Ainay-le-Vieil
18200 Ainay

Autoroute 71 Paris-Clermont, sortie 8 towards St Amand-Montrond. 33 miles south of Bourges, signed from the N2144.

17 acres

00 33 2 48 63 36 14

Visit website

Opening Hours

Daily, 10am–7pm, 1 Apr–2 Oct.


Please see website for admission prices.

RHS members

Free access (Member 1 only) - applies 1 Jun–30 Aug.


  • Accessible facilities
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Dogs welcome
  • Free carer entry
  • Gift shop
  • Parking
  • Picnic area
  • Refreshments
  • Toilets


  • Autumn colour
  • Champion trees
  • Pond or lake
  • Sculpture
  • Water garden

About the garden

Owned by
Marie-Sol de La Tour d'Auvergne

Ainay-le-Vieil gardens are from three different periods: Renaissance water gardens, ancient architectural enclosures built for fruit production and contemporary gardens. They have been classified as historical monument and “remarkable” gardens by the French Ministry of Culture.

In the 19th century landscaped park stands the 13th century medieval fortified castle flanked with nine high towers and surrounded by a moat. In front of it, Renaissance water gardens invite us to an initiation walk into the art of gardening, as contemporary gardens have been created after a storm in 1985 in place of those that had disappeared.

In front of the Renaissance pavilions, the rose garden with its numerous varieties of old roses and rose banks invading the trees and the Renaissance Pavilions offers a profusion of colours and perfumes. A collection of about 200 varieties outline the history of the rose, starting with the simple hawthorn found in our thickets. Roses of Provins and Damask roses were then introduced after crusades and other travels. Imported later from Asia, the famous tea rose gave birth to the current hybrids, scented until autumn.

We walk along the canals surrounding the "Square Island" boarded with high palisades of hornbeams and arrive at the "Chartreuses", old architectural enclosures originally built to ensure the best quality of the fruits. Made of five different rooms equal in size, they are linked by a series of arcades and each one is a different type of garden: a mixed-border, a regular orchard with espaliers, a medieval meditation garden, a renaissance cloister and a formal boxwood garden.

A remarkable characteristic of the gardens of Ainay-le-Vieil is the omnipresence of the water and the sophisticated use made of it. At first used in the moat to defend the castle, afterwards used for its beauty and the pleasure of the eye when regularised in canals around the "Square Island" and the Renaissance Pavilions, it is finally used for the mill fall before ending in the river Cher.

Plants of special interest

  • Asters
  • Autumn bulbs
  • Camellias
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Clematis
  • Cornus (for winter stems or spring bracts)
  • Daffodils
  • Ferns
  • Fruit blossom
  • Fruit bushes/trees
  • Fuchsias
  • Grasses
  • Heathers
  • Hellebores
  • Hemerocallis
  • Herbs
  • Hostas
  • Irises
  • Lavender
  • Lilies
  • Magnolias
  • Maple
  • Roses
  • Sweet peas
  • Topiary
  • Waterlilies
  • Wisteria

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.