Loire Valley and surrounds, France

The planets align at Chateau de la Bourdaisiere in the Loire Valley – rammed full of natural history curiosities from the proprietor’s famous Paris emporium Deyrolle. You can eat in the al fresco walled kitchen garden, accessed via the potage filled with over 650 tomato varieties. There’s a tomato bar so you can get into hungry caterpillar mode and try to make a dent in sampling the varieties. There are plans afoot to develop the chateau’s cellars into a wine and natural history museum. The tunnels spread right under the forest and the village – joy of joys, a subterranean natural history museum, can it get any better? Rooms from €100.

Chateau Hotel de la Bourdaisiere, France

Drive two hours in a south easterly direction and you can find, a medieval fortress in Parthenay, Poitou Charentes. This is the real deal – you can boat in the moat. The Sentinel’s Chamber in the keep is an enormous room with high eaves which you’ll share with bats who sweep in and around the room at dusk. Fear not – they wipe out all midges who cross their path so they earn their keep, in the keep! Breakfast is winched up through the turret first thing in the morning. Enquire for rates.

Chateau Tennessus, France

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