Beloved of car racing buffs, this charming hotel has been part of the Le Mans 24-hours story for ever. The nostalgia is spread by a history of champion drivers, film stars and world leaders, as well as some glorious old cars that have roared up to the front door. Its creeper-clothed face looks over the lovely town square, its bar clients spill onto the convivial pavement. An English classic-car enthusiast fell in love with the hotel years ago and… finally it was his. He renovated the Art Deco dining room, built a pretty pool beside the river and kept the head chef and barman whom everyone loved. Bedrooms have been beautifully refurbished: some have famous racing names, four-posters and damask wall fabric, all have brand-new bathrooms and fine attention to detail, all are excellent value. But motor racing isn’t all: the châteaux of the Loire are an hour away; the bucolic valley has some fine historic buildings of its own, including Le Lude with its glorious furniture and gardens. Vineyard tours in an eccentric pre-war bus can be arranged; or bicycle trips, or hot-air ballooning… Then back for a high-class dinner.