Nestled on the banks of the Loir river (not to be confused with its namesake and neighbour, the Loire), the Château du Lude has not only withstood the brunt of 1,000 years of history but survived the French Revolution unscathed. No mean feat, since the owners are descended from the Sun King’s brother!

In the same family for 260 years, the château is a homestead like no other. Loath to see her husband’s family seat reduced to a “soulless museum”, Countess Barbara de Nicolaÿ has made it her life’s mission to share its rich heritage, kitchen sink and all, with the public.

The maverick aristocrat has even been known to allow curious visitors into her private quarters, to “keep them alive”. In this intimate tome, she goes one further, offering readers unprecedented access to every last nook and secret cranny. A rare glimpse into the exalted lives of its inhabitants – and the daily drudge of preserving a centuries-old pile.

Highly recommended.

French Château Living: The Lude, by Barbara de Nicolaÿ, Christine Toulier, photography by Eric Sander. List price: £55. Published by Flammarion

From France Today magazine

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