Michèle and Jean-Jacques are the best kind of urban refugees. They retired early from high-stress jobs in Paris after falling in love with this classically elegant house in a wonderful, less-beaten part of the Loire Valley. Warm and fascinating, they will communicate their love of this new life over delicious breakfast of fruit salad, homemade cakes and jams, or homely French dinner. There’s a comfortable grey and red salon, most attractive with its throws and cushions and fine stone fireplace. Then, up a colourful staircase are four excellent bedrooms. The airy first-floor rooms give onto the pretty courtyard, the quirky rooms under the eaves have great tree-trunk rafters and share a stylish bathroom. Visit châteaux, vineyards and wonderful Fontevraud Abbey, go kayaking or cycling from Chinon.