You drive across an expanse of flat, hedge-free farmland and through the sleepy village of Fleury-en-Bière, to reach the arched entrance and courtyard of the Château de Fleury. The castle is lived-in by three brothers of the Ganay family so the grounds are strictly private. However, little La Poterne, positioned above the central arch opposite, has the prize-winning view. The internal stair to the side of the arch delivers you to the first level (the heart of the house) and continues to the Chambre Persiennes, whose window shares that of the living area below; and up again to a beamy bedroom in the vaulted roof. Wake to breakfast delivered to the door (one of six à la carte extras), and set off for the painters’ village of Barbizon, so close you can cycle there (bikes on the house). If you fancy a day in Paris, hop on the train at Fontainbleau. Return to bedrooms peaceful and serene, their immaculate roll-top tubs hidden behind screens. Fine fabrics, furniture, paintings and high ceilings make this a mini-chateau unto itself, while a trot across the courtyard brings you to your own side garden (accessible from May 2018).