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Jardin à la Française

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Jardin à la Française

French Garden Design

Jardin à la Française, otherwise known as the ‘French formal garden’ is a romantic garden style that we’re falling head over heels for this February. 

A beautifully structured yet mesmerising style of landscape design, french gardens are shaped from a series of distinctive elements such as symmetry and cool colour schemes. With influences drawn from Italian landscapes, Jardin à la Française focuses on a strong sense of formality, including statement features such as tranquil pools, grand fountains and expertly sculpted displays of Buxus.

With geometry at the heart of French garden design, you can find a range of shapes and formations gently embedded and threaded throughout a number of French-inspired landscapes. Encompassing breathtaking and heavenly garden elements, read on to discover how these formal French garden design features can be easily blended into your very own garden design.

Striking symmetry 

In French garden design, it can be argued that symmetry is one of the most significant components that makes up the design. Using a combination of hedges, raised beds and containers, this allows the designer to craft a series of seamless and defined lines throughout the landscape. Glorious box hedging parterres are also fantastic for framing a variety of shapes that we often find within French garden designs, such as the geometric shapes of diamonds and triangles.

Focal points and classic features 

With the grounds and surrounding landscape encompassing the main focal point (the home or château), there are also a variety of other focal points that are typically dotted throughout French garden designs too. Urns and planters are two examples that are often placed within the garden to fill the space with gorgeous bursts of floral colour and are fabulous for enhancing your formal French garden with beautiful tones and texture.

Grand water features are also fantastic for enhancing the formal nature of any french inspired garden design. Typically found within Jardin à la Française, reflecting pools and fountains are wonderfully idyllic garden features that diffuse a harmonious ambience throughout your landscape. A beautiful example of Jardin à la Française can be seen at the Château de Versailles. A glorious French palace, the Château de Versailles contains numerous historical fountains that can be spotted as you walk around and explore the great gardens contained within the greater design.

Hard landscaping elements 

Shaping a glorious garden network in contrast to an assortment of vivid planting arrangements, you can find a series of hard landscaping elements situated within French garden designs. Completing a formal and structured aesthetic,  gravel chip pathways are a prime hard landscaping feature that we see in authentic formal French garden designs.

Typically winding away from the château, an assortment of gravel chip pathways are often carved into the landscape to create an authentically French gardenscape. Leading yourself and your eye to explore the gardens beyond, these neat and precise pathways frame an orderly garden scene and further emphasise the man-made notion that flows through this style. These fine gravel chip pathways can also be used to construct the foundations of a grand collection of parterres too!

Stone is a fundamental French garden material. Used to create expansive terraces, to edge beds or to create striking statuary, stone pops up throughout many formal French garden designs, beautifully emphasising the structured nature and formality of this style.

Planting schemes

Enhancing formal French gardens with their neat and orderly structure, there is a repeated recipe of plants and trees that are frequently used to form these designs. Normally planted in straight and neat rows, trees such as Hornbeam, Chestnut and Beech are often trimmed to create beautifully shaped topiary.

Softened with dreamy pastel palettes, the tones of pink, blue, purple and crisp whites can be seen regularly in this historic style of landscape design. Drifts of Lavandula are very popular for this style, diffusing waves of idyllic and relaxing perfume into the garden. Salvia rosmarinus or ‘Rosemary’ is also a favoured choice in the Jardin à la Française style, diffusing an aromatic fragrance and gorgeous evergreen structure throughout the garden. These shrubs can often be found nearest the house or château where planting is often much lower down to the ground.


Deriving from the French “for the soup pot”, potagers are ultimately French kitchen gardens. With many grand Chateax having large and patterned kitchen gardens incorporated into their designs, potagers traditionally include a wide expanse of vibrant homegrown vegetables, fruits and herbs.

An orderly style of kitchen garden, a fantastic and grand example to explore is the ornamental kitchen garden at Chateau de Villandry. Encompassing a Renaissance style, this kitchen garden is a Jardin à la Française masterpiece, including a striking collection of symmetrical vegetable patches filled with an abundance of brightly coloured garden grown produce.

Feeling inspired to diffuse an essence of Jardin à la Française into your garden? Talk to us today to discover how our masterly design team could shape your space into a breathtaking French formal garden.

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