• Photo: Jose Ignacio Soto / Shutterstock

Chambord

The "Versailles" of the 16th century and the largest of the Loire châteaux, the Château de Chambord is the kind of place William Randolph Hearst might have built if he'd had the money. Variously dubbed "megalomaniacal" and "an enormous film-set extravaganza," this is one of the most extraordinary structures in Europe, set in the middle of a royal game forest, with just a cluster of buildings—barely a village—across the road.

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