The 54-sq-km hunting reserve around the Château de Chambord – the largest walled park in Europe – is reserved for the exclusive use of very high-ranking French government officials (though it’s difficult to imagine François Hollande astride a galloping stallion). About 10 sq km of the park, north and northwest of the château, is open to the public, with trails for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Hire bikes, pedal carts, electric golf carts, rowboats and electric boats at a rental kiosk, near the embarcadère (dock) midway between the château and its Halle d'Accueil.

The park is a great place for wildlife-spotting, especially during the deer mating season in September and October. Observation towers dot the perimeter of the park; set out at dawn or dusk to maximise your chances of spotting stags, boars and red deer. Or jump aboard a Land Rover Safari tour conducted by a French-speaking guide.