As you approach up the tree-lined drive, the château appears at the top of the rise, guarded by its pepper-pot tower. Through the gateway, then the inner courtyard, and there is Madame, ushering you in for an apéritif with the family (six smiling children) in a vast and magnificent hall, the Francois I Galerie, furnished with 18th-century armchairs and 16th-century murals. So fascinating is the history that the château is open to the public (it feels a privilege to stay here, contributing to the restoration!). One suite, decorated in deep orange and dove grey and on the ground floor, is named after the owner in the days of the French Revolution, ‘Julie de la Lorie’; note the gorgeous ceramic stove in its salon-boudoir. The rest are on the first floor, their elegantly dressed windows overlooking the park. All are stylishly furnished, beautifully proportioned and the bathrooms are state of the art, one with tiles hand-painted by Monsieur (who also farms beef cattle). Generous breakfasts are served in your suite, candlelit dinner at separate tables – ‘cuisine du terroir’ and delicious.