103km (64 miles) SW of Paris; 43km (27 miles) SW of Chartres

Austere and foreboding, Château de Châteaudun, place Jean-de-Dunois (tel. 02-37-94-02-90), rises on a stone table over a tributary of the Loire. Begun in the Middle Ages, the château is a mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture, with towering chimneys and dormers. After a fire in the 18th century, Hardouin, Louis XV's architect, directed the town's reconstruction and turned over the castle to the homeless, who stripped it of its finery. In 1935, the government acquired the fortress and launched a restoration. Even today, it's not richly furnished, but fine tapestries depicting scenes such as the worship of the golden calf now cover its walls. The château's most admirable features are two carved staircases. Inside the Ste-Chapelle, dating from the Middle Ages, are more than a dozen 15th-century robed statues. In 2002, the curators added a permanent exhibit honoring Jean Dunois, a comrade in arms to Joan of Arc.

The château is open daily: May 2 to June 30 10am to 1pm and 2 to 6pm; July 1 to September 4 10am to 1pm and 2 to 6:15pm; September 5 to April 30 10am to 12:30pm and 2 to 5:30pm. Admission is 6.50€ for adults, 4.50€ for ages 18 to 25, and free for children 17 and under. Allow 1 1/2 hours to see the château.