Fodor's Expert Review Château de Rambouillet
Surrounded by a magnificent 36,000-acre forest, this elegant château is a popular spot for biking and walking. Most of the structure dates to the early 18th century, but the brawny Tour François-Ier (François I Tower), named for the king who died here in 1547, was part of a fortified castle that earlier stood on this site. Highlights include the wood-paneled apartments, especially the Boudoir de la Comtesse (Countess's Dressing Room); the marble-sheathed Salle de Marbre (Marble Hall), dating to the Renaissance; and the Salle de Bains de Napoléon (Napoléon's Bathroom), adorned with Pompeii-style frescoes. Compared to the muscular forecourt, the château's lakeside facade is a scene of unsuspected serenity and, as flowers spill from its balconies, cheerful informality. Guided visits in English are available on the hour (10–5) by reservation.