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191km (119 miles) SW of Paris; 18km (11 miles) E of Blois

When François I said, "Come on up to my place," he meant the Château de Chambord, 41250 Bracieux (tel. 02-54-50-40-00; www.chambord.org). Some 2,000 workers began "the pile" in 1519. What emerged after 20 years was the pinnacle of the French Renaissance, the largest château in the Loire Valley. 

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