Château de Sully-sur-Loire

The Loire Valley

With its machicolated ramparts (featuring holes for pouring boiling liquid on attackers), soaring round turrets and steeply pitched roof, this fairy-tale castle was built, starting in 1395, to defend one of the Loire's crucial crossings. Today, 19 rooms are richly decorated with furnishings dating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. One side of the glassy moat is lined with two-century-old bald cypresses, brought from the USA by General Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, in the late 1700s.

Highlights include a barrel-vaulted chamber that housed the castle's garrison (most of the roof beams are early-15th-century originals) and the Chambre du Roi (King's Bedroom), created for Henri IV. He never visited – but his grandson Louis XIV did, in 1652. Voltaire stayed at Sully in the 1710s after being exiled from Paris for angering the Duc d'Orléans.

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