Your tall windows look over the great park and wooded hillside (with railway); beneath your feet are Renaissance bricks. The famous de Montmorency family built this place in the 1560’s and Françoise (nicknamed Fosseuse) was one of King Henri IV’s better-known mistresses. It is filled with lovely things: a monumental stone staircase ushers you up past antique Turkish rugs and rich wall hangings, find a secret staircase behind elegant panelling, sleep in canopied bedrooms with enormously high ceilings and glorious views. It’s not strictly formal thanks to your warm, cultured hosts who genuinely enjoy sharing their historical home. If you need any more information there’s a vast selection of historic reference books to pour over in the breakfast room and advice on where to go. Enjoy bountiful breakfasts and homemade preserves, heaps of towels and lashings of hot water, gumboots for guests by the door (all sizes for all ages) and Michelin stars a short drive. Paris is 45 minutes away – the train to the Gare du Nord is a hop down the drive; medieval villages, Monet’s garden at Giverny and craft markets are near.