Nineteenth-century writers Alfred de Musset, Honoré de Balzac, and Victor Hugo were all once guests at this quintessential Normand château, famed for sophisticated gardens that feature witty sculptures, leafy groves, impressive columns of yew, a fernery, a labyrinth, and a Temple of Diana. Dating from 1620, La Ballue has a rather severe and forbidding exterior. Inside, however, the dynamic English-speaking owners Alain and Marie-Françoise Mathiot-Mathon offer a warm welcome. Gleaming wood paneling and period antiques adorn the main floor, from which a huge granite staircase leads up to the lovely guest rooms—four large, beautifully decorated, fabric-swathed salons (each with a four-poster bed) and a luxury suite.
18 km (11 miles) east of Combourg, Combourg, 35270, France