192km (119 miles) SW of Paris; 19km (12 miles) SE of Blois
The upper crust heads to the Sologne area for the hunt as if the 17th century had never ended. However, 21st-century realities -- like formidable taxes -- can't be entirely avoided, so the Château de Cheverny (tel. 02-54-79-96-29; www.chateau-cheverny.fr) must open some of its rooms to visitors.
Unlike most of the Loire châteaux, Cheverny is the residence of the original owner's descendants. The family of the vicomte de Sigalas can trace its lineage from Henri Hurault, the son of the chancellor of Henri III and Henri IV, who built the first château in 1634. Upon finding his wife carrying on with a page, he killed the page and offered his spouse a choice: She could swallow poison or have his sword plunged into her heart. She elected the less bloody method. Then he had the castle torn down and the present one built for his second wife. Designed in classic Louis XIII style, it has square pavilions flanking the central pile.
You'll be impressed by the antique furnishings, tapestries, and objets d'art. A 17th-century French artist, Jean Mosnier, decorated the fireplace with motifs from the legend of Adonis. The Guards' Room contains a collection of medieval armor; also on display is a Gobelin tapestry depicting the abduction of Helen of Troy. In the king's bedchamber, another Gobelin traces the trials of Ulysses. Most impressive is the stone stairway of carved fruit and flowers.
[tel] 02-54-79-96-29. www.château-cheverny.fr. Admission 9.50€ adults, 6.50€ students under 25 and children 7–18, and free children 6 and under (additional fee for exhibits), boat and golf cart rentals also available. Daily Nov–Mar 9:45am–5pm; April–June and Sept 9:15am–6:15pm; July–Aug 9:15am–6:45pm; and Oct 9:45am–5:30pm.