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295km (183 miles) SW of Paris; 14km (8 2/3 miles) NE of Chinon

Arriving -- The château is best visited by car or on an organized bus tour from Tours. If you’re driving from Tours or Villandry, follow D7 to Ussé.

At the edge of the dark forest of Chinon in Rigny-Ussé, Château d'Ussé (tel. 02-47-95-54-05; www.chateaudusse.fr) was the inspiration for Perrault's legend of The Sleeping Beauty (La Belle au bois dormant). Conceived as a fortress, the complex of steeples, turrets, towers, and dormers was erected at the dawn of the Renaissance on a hill overlooking the Indre River. The terraces, laden with orange trees, were laid out in the 18th century. When the need for a fortified château passed, the north wing was demolished to open up a greater view.

The château was later owned by the duc de Duras and then by Mme. de la Rochejacquelin; its present owner, the marquis de Blacas, has opened many rooms to the public. The guided tour begins in the Renaissance chapel, with its sculptured portal and handsome stalls. You then proceed to the royal apartments, furnished with tapestries and antiques. One gallery displays an extensive collection of swords and rifles. A spiral stairway leads to a tower with a panoramic view of the river and a waxwork Sleeping Beauty waiting for her prince to come.

 

[tel] 02-47-95-54-05. www.chateaudusse.fr. Admission 14€ adults, 4€ students and children 8–16, free 7 and under. Open daily mid-Feb to March 10am–6pm; April–Aug 10am–7pm; and Sept–Nov 10am–6pm; closed the rest of the year.The château is best visited by car or on an organized bus tour from Tours. If you're driving from Tours or Villandry, follow D7 to Ussé.