• Photo: (c) Franzisca | Dreamstime.com

Meung-sur-Loire

This tiny, sleepy village's maze of medieval streets and charming half-timbered houses have a literary past. Described by Alexandre Dumas in The Three Musketeers, this is also where author Georges Simenon placed the summer house of his beloved Chief Inspector Maigret. Though off-the-beaten Loire path, the picturesque château, which spans many centuries of architecture, is as authentic as it gets and never fails to please visitors—who are blessedly less numerous than at the more frequented Loire châteaux.

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