Château de Thoiry
Château de Thoiry Review
Thoiry's showpiece is the Château de Thoiry, built by Philibert de l'Orme in 1564. Its handsome Renaissance facade is set off by gardens landscaped in the disciplined French fashion by Le Nôtre, in this case with unexpected justification: The château is positioned directly in line with the sun as it sets in the west at the winter solstice (December 21) and as it rises in the east at the summer solstice (June 21). Heightening the effect, the central part of the château appears to be a transparent arch of light because of its huge glass doors and windows. Owners Vicomte Paul de La Panouse and his American wife Annabelle have restored the château and park, opening both to the public. You're allowed to wander at leisure, although it's best not to stray too far from the official footpath through the Réserve Africaine (game reserve). Note that the parts of the reserve that contain the wilder beasts—zebras, camels, hippos, bears, and elephants—can be visited only by car. Tigers can be seen from the safety of a raised footbridge, and lions from inside a glass-wall tunnel.