You can lift off from the grounds in a balloon; some of the finest châteaux and wineries of the Loire are within easy reach. Built in the 16th century, Le Plessis has always been in the family and has been welcoming guests for years. Though large and very elegant, the château, set in 21 hectares of wooded park, is inviting not imposing, with Anjou slate roofs, white walls and creeper-covered shutters. Dinner, at a long table in a rather ornate dining room with scenes from the Roman Empire, could include salmon, duck with apricots, cheese and a crisp fruit tart. Fruit (masses of raspberries) and vegetables come directly from the walled potager. One bedroom is striking with oriental rugs and the bed in a deep alcove; others have lofty beamed ceilings; beds are turned down at night: water and chocolates placed on bedside tables. Children are welcome: the Renouls have two of their own, hence the playground and trampoline as well as rabbits and a goat. There’s a small pond brimming with fish and lilies, and a hen house – Madame invites children to gather the eggs. Terra Botanica is a 15-minute drive.