THE CHATEAU du Lude (www.lelude.com) is one of the architectural jewels of the first French Renaissance. Situated two-and-a-half hours from Paris, at the crossroads of three regions – the Maine, Touraine and Anjou – stately rooms attest to a refined history. During the Renaissance period, the old medieval fortress was turned into a comfortable residence by Louis XI’s chamberlain, Jean de Dallon, and each generation contributed to its stunning beauty as the centuries passed. Today, the chateau displays six centuries of French architecture. The outbuildings are still composed of the 16th century’s vaulted stables. The gardens stretch over several terraces, and are composed of formal gardens, a rose garden, a romantic park and a kitchen garden.DSC_6161

DSC_6163DSC_6167DSC_6164DSC_6168DSC_6169DSC_6170DSC_6172DSC_6174DSC_6175DSC_6177DSC_6180DSC_6181All images © Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton