2. Château de Chambord
The largest of the Loire Valley’s many châteaux, Chambord is a French icon, easily recognised for its crowd of chimneys, cupolas and towers.
It was built in the first half of the 16th century as a hunting lodge for King Francis I, and its exquisite renaissance design and mind-boggling scale were a not so subtle symbol of French royal power.
The size of the château still has the power to make you gasp: There are 440 rooms, 84 staircases and the length of the four facades adds up to 128 metres.
Of the many things to admire inside, the central double spiral staircase demands your attention.
The grounds are absolutely vast too, enclosed by a fence more than 30 kilometres long and still supporting large herds of red deer.