Its machicolated towers and blue-slate roof pierced with dormers give it a medieval air; however, its defensive-fortress-like appearance is all for show. The château was actually commissioned in the early 1500s for Gilles Berthelot, François I’s finance minister, and his wife, Philippa, who supervised its construction. They didn’t have long to enjoy their elegant creation: In 1527, Berthelot was accused of misappropriation of funds and forced to flee, and the château reverted to the king. He didn’t live here, but granted it to Antoine Raffin, one of his high-ranking soldiers. It became the property of the state in 1905.

Before you enter, circle the château and note the perfect proportions of this crowning achievement of the Renaissance in the Touraine. Check out its most fancifully ornate feature, the bay enclosing a grand stairway with a straight flight of steps. From the second-floor Royal Chamber, look out at the gardens. This lavish bedroom housed Louis XIII when he came through in 1619. The private apartments are lined with rich tapestries dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and feature examples of rare period furniture.  The castle underwent extensive renovations completed mid 2017, giving the exteriors a much-needed facelift in addition to refurbishments to the interior and grounds.