For lovers of deep country and calm luxury, a big shuttered mansion (1646 with later additions) on the site of a fortified stronghold. Surrounded by meadows and woodland, this part-moated house is flanked by atmospheric 12th-century towers and outbuildings. Your ex-Parisian hosts, a young family, have completed an immaculate restoration, and have five perfect bedrooms to guests. Find handsome carpets on polished boards, vast beds heaped with pillows, an outstanding selection of pictures (oils, icons, engravings) and classic porcelain hand basins. The first-floor rooms are splendidly huge with innumerable windows for vistas; the rooms above are cosier (one with a bedspread densely embroidered with flowers). Downstairs: pale painted wainscoting and moss-green velvet chairs, a marble fireplace for log fires, and age-old polished stone flooring; let the beauty wash over you. Spa, golf and riding breaks can be arranged, there’s ‘Suisse Normande’ for rock climbing and canoeing, Caen for culture and shopping. Return for a mini row on the moat or a quiet read in the gardens, before venturing out for dinner.