Be it as grand as the gardens at Villandry castle in the Loire, or just a respite from the city in Paris, French gardens are a must-see, even in winter. Of course spring and summer are ideal, especially at Giverny, where visitors can see Claude Monet's gardens, planted just as he painted them. Vaux le Vicomte was the first French example of the wildly popular Italian Renaissance garden design style. For the first time, the landowner could look out from his palace and see a formal, planned design that echoed the scale of the home. Versailles is where this was perfected. The idea of taking a vast landscape and creating "rooms" divided by hedges, fountains and artful pathways is a design in vogue to this day.