In a peaceful street overlooking lush meadows, sheltered by old walls and surrounded by trees, is an 1850s maison de maître, a Belle Epoque residence; the first view takes your breath away. Little Toto and Chopin wag their welcome, followed by smiling Pascale. In big bedrooms on the first floor, wood, linen, silk and cotton blend with antique pieces and a luxurious modern feel pervades. Borrow the bikes, visit Sancerre and the cathedral at Bourges, return to a secluded courtyard and a delicious pool. Breakfast, served under the Napoleonic chandelier, is divine: Pascale, warm hostess, is a skilled pastry chef.