Oodles of atmosphere, rooks aplenty and views over one of Auvergne’s wonderful romanesque churches. A volcanic region is the perfect cradle for this magnificently turreted and castellated fortress, high on the forested fringes of one of France’s most beautiful villages, Saint Saturnin. A stone spiral, worn with age and history, leads to five sumptuous bedrooms – regal four-posters and an inspired blend of antique and modern furniture – in the oldest wing of the 13th-century ‘monument historique’. The Louis XIII suite, its bathroom tucked into a tower, spans the castle’s width; views are to tumbling rooftops and that perfect church, and the gardens and parkland behind (heaven for weddings). The vaulted dining room, decked with gleaming copper pans, is the backdrop for relaxed breakfast spreads. Redolent with royal history, the château has been lovingly, painstakingly returned to its original glory, yet, thanks to your friendly, well-travelled hosts, is in no way intimidating. Catherine de Médicis and La Reine Margot were once owners and a Renaissance garden is now being made. Château Royal is open to the public.