One of the most famous sights of Angers is the Château Brissac-Quince situated 20 km outside of the town. It is the tallest castle in all of France but those plain words cannot really convey the immensity of the ‘Giant of the Loire Valley’.

There are 204 rooms spread over seven storeys, ceilings decorated with gold leaf and a complete Belle Époque theatre (every home should have one).  There is also 300 meters of an underground river, as in the 18th century the Cossé-Brissac family had overflow from the River Aubance diverted beneath the Château and no visitor should miss the fascinating, if surprisingly cold, experience of walking along its banks.

Chateau BrissacThere are also opportunities for wine tasting in the extensive cellars or simply marvelling at how the 16th-century kitchen is still very much in operation. Gourmands are very strongly advised to pay a visit during the first weekend in July, for this is the famous Fête de la Rillaudée, celebrating the local charcuterie of rillettes – pieces of pork cooked in their own fat – with extensive stands displaying foods and wines of the area including those from the Château s own vineyard.

Meanwhile, those who wish for a more tranquil holiday might prefer to explore the grounds bordered by trees that are centuries old or take a look at the 19th century stables that the Duc de Cossé-Brissac had fitted with electricity long before the main Château received this luxury, which might give an idea of how horses were esteemed in comparison with human guests! The Cossé-Brissacs acquired the castle in 1502 – the fortified towers date from that century – and the 13th Duc still resides here. PS The anonymous writer in The Rough Guide to France who described the interior as ‘a riot of bad taste’ was probably suffering from an acute case of jealousy’.