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The turrets, moat and cobbled sentry walk are token gestures towards the look of a fortress because this is in reality a dream home of the 16th century – and no one would mind it today either! The staircase was incredibly innovative for its day, inside (a novelty then), running centrally through the chateau and giving fabulous views at every level. The rooms are exquisitely furnished and decorated with tapestries and paintings and the most extraordinary artworks. Automatons bring the castle to life, whirling figures, twirling cake stands, swishing curtains – it’s all very fairy-tale like and perfectly suits this most romantic and elegant of chateaux. From early July to end August – the chateau is lit up at night for evening visits. www.azay-le-rideau.fr/en/ What to see in Azay-le- Rideau Take the time to discover the town while you’re there - it’s charming and authentic and there are some lovely shops and restaurants. Don’t miss – the Thé Salon with its gorgeous artisan cakes (top left) at 23 Rue nationale. Stroll down rue de Balzac, the road which leads to the gates of the chateau, it's lined with galleries, boutiques and cafés and is very pretty. Relax in the secret garden in front of the chateau, filled with seasonal flowers and herbs. Enjoy the wine... this is an area of magnificent vineyards producing Touraine
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