How to Create a French Country Garden

Can you create a French country garden where you live?  In most parts of the United States, the answer is: yes.  I live in the Pacific Northwest, & while a full-on French garden isn’t possible, I’ve definitely drawn inspiration from French country style & symmetry.  If you’ve ever been to the castle-filled Loire Valley, then you’ve seen some of the country’s most spectacular, formal gardens.  And while they’re beautiful: it’s often the more informal French gardens that have the most charm…which is good news for us  gardeners!  Here, we’ll learn how to create a beautiful French country garden, no matter your budget or where you live…

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

This is a perfect example of a relaxed, French country outdoor dining area. The pea gravel & water fountain are two important elements of French style.

 

If you’d like to get inspiration with finding the best French country paint colors: read this article. Or perhaps you’d just like to take a look at some gorgeous French country-inspired homes….

Style Book

 

Outdoor Fountain

 

Metal Arbor

Hallmarks of French Country Garden-Style

  • The use of pea gravel, stones, stepping stones, cobble-stones, a rustic stone wall ~ basically, any kind of stones you can think of. The more weathered & worn-in, the better
  • Informal, or formal, dining areas set amidst the garden, surrounded by profusions of flowers.
  • French gardens intersect with English cottage gardens in that they both make ample use of arbors: for both drama, & to add height & interest to the garden landscape. I purchased this beautiful, French-inspired black arbor from Amazon ~ & I love the height it adds to my landscape. Use climbing roses or vines to climb up over & soften it… 
  • French gardens love symmetry, geometry, & shapes: often times, they’ll use boxwood hedges or rows of trees to create these shapes. I’ve done this in my own garden, using rows of Emerald Green Arborvitae to create a privacy hedge that has a more formal look. 
  • Water features! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a French garden that doesn’t make use of at least one water feature, whether it’s a simple bird bath, a multi-tiered fountain, or small pond.
  • Words that capture French country style: refined, elegant, rustic, symmetrical, geometric, lightly distressed, charming, weathered, worn-in, muted & soft colors, effortless. 
  • Two of the most popular & “signature” French country flowers are hydrangeas & of course, French Lavender.

Photos of French Country Gardens…

The main idea of this article is to gather inspiration ~ & the best way to do that is to view photos of beautiful French country gardens.  Just remember: yours does NOT need to be super formal…like a mini-Versailles!  You can simply use elements of French country style in small ways, like adding a fountain as a focal point, or a simple bird bath.  Adding pea gravel & natural stone is also a great way to add a French country touches to your garden….

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

There are many elements of French style here: old stone walls, French doors, quaint outdoor seating, & plant-filled containers for a cozy feel.

Photos of Amazing French Country Gardens, Girl Who Gardens

This French garden uses very little color: but is still stunning.

What is a French Country Garden? Girl Who Travels the World

A relaxed outdoor patio in French country style. The shutters are a near-perfect Provence Blue. Photo by Veranda.

Photos of Amazing French Country Gardens, Girl Who Gardens

Neat boxwood mixed with blooming lavender creates a beautiful border…

French Country Look, How to Design a French Country Garden, Girl Who Gardens

I recently dog-eared this oh-so-French look in “Victoria” magazine: an idyllic outdoor setting.

Photos of Amazing French Country Gardens, Girl Who Gardens

Hydrangeas surround this lovely, rustic outdoor dining area.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World, Versailles

The most famous French garden: Versailles. While formal, there are elements to copy: like playing with geometry & shapes. Use trees to form hedges & draw the eye towards one central feature ~ like a pond. Photo: Paris Insiders Guide.

What is a French Country Garden? Girl Who Gardens

French style can also be very simple. Photo: The Spruce.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

When I think of French gardens, I picture something like this: a beautiful stone building covered with vines, informal seating, & a cobblestone walkway. Rustic perfection. Photo by Cottage Garden.

Photos of Amazing French Country Gardens, Girl Who Gardens, How to Create a Gorgeous Raised Bed Garden, How to Create a Modern Farmhouse Garden, The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6, Girl Who Gardens

My OWN French country garden! Which has taken 3+ years to create…

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

If I could create this scene in my garden ~ OH MY would I! Note the mismatched chairs & distressed table: French country does NOT = perfect!

There’s no quicker way to add French country feel to your yard than by adding a chandelier ~ hang it from your covered patio, or if you have a She Shed, hang it in there! It doesn’t have to work: simply hanging it will give you that rustic feel.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

A charming entrance that’s a little French, a little cottage garden. Photo by The Cottage Journal.

What is a French Country Garden? Girl Who Travels the World

An abundance of flowers surrounds this She Shed. Photo by French Country Cottage.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

French style brings DRAMA to fountains! Create a path leading up to it, & surround the fountain with stones or flowers ~ to create a statement.

Buy a beautiful, multi-tiered fountain ~ then surround it with pea gravel & larger rocks in the shape of a circle to truly make a statement. Lead a pathway up to it, or line trees & shrubs along a path towards it…

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

Hidden “rooms” work in any garden. Photo by Holly Lepere Studios.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

This garden has a slightly more formal feel with less flowers. But the large urns are quintessential French-style.

How to Design a French Country Garden, Girl Who Gardens

A heavenly scene. Photo by Veranda.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

The “Shabby Chic” style, created by Rachel Ashwell, is a cousin of French ~ with its subtle color palette, distressed furniture, & tranquil feel.

Chandelier

Outdoor String Lights

Hydrangeas

 

Other Beautiful French Gardens…

If you type “famous French gardens” into Google, two castles in the Loire Valley will likely pop up: Chateaux Villandry & Chenonceau.  Though both are formal (& massive), you can certainly take inspiration from each, incorporating small elements into your own garden.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World, Chateau Villandry

Chateau Villandry is one of France’s most famous formal gardens. Elements to mimic are its pea gravel pathways, symmetrical garden planning, & the use of different shapes (mainly square & rectangular here).

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World, Chateau Chenonceau

The gardens at Chenonceau were my favorite, & more charming than Villandry’s ~ with the use of ornamental grasses, shrubs, & trees shaped into globes.

How to Create a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

Lavender is another famous French flower.

Learn when you can see the spectacular South of France lavender fields in the height of full bloom, here

How to Create a French Country Garden

If you’re itching to add a water feature to your yard, check out this bird bath I found on Amazon; I have three & LOVE them.  Or find a corner of your yard where you can add a cozy daybed….because taking a little nap is very French indeed.

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: How to Create a Drought-Tolerant Garden

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How to Design a French Country Garden, Girl Who Travels the World

What is a French Country Garden? Girl Who Travels the World