Château de Chambord Chambord, Centre, France

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The most monumental of the Loire Valley castles (and the closest to Paris, only two hours away by car), the royal castle of Chambord is like Macchu Picchu or the Great Pyramids of Giza: a massive stone testament to architectural ingenuity. Since eyes may glaze over during the guided tours, try the self-guided tour to enjoy the unique double-helix stone spiral staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci and the sweeping view over the estate from the ‘lantern tower’ rooftop terrace. The surrounding estate forest harbors a rich variety of wildlife (boar, stag, deer) and is a bucket-list destination for hunters around the world who come to experience the aristocratic French pastime of hunting on horseback. Young visitors will love the horse and bird of prey demonstrations (twice daily, in season) in the former royal stables.

Written by Ceil Miller Bouchet

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