A remarkable wow of a place. An imposing 11th-century château, above the Ardèche river and the tiny higgledy village of Balazuc, with inspired ‘ancient meets modern’ interior design. The warmly friendly Lemaires – multilingual former journalists – invite you to mingle at evening drinks; superb breakfasts are sociable too, in the vaulted dining room or on the view-filled terrace. Choose from hugely comfortable, radically different rooms – Moroccan touches, balconies, chain mail… sleep to the sound of owls and the river. Visit the Grotte Chauvet cave – the oldest art gallery on earth, go canoeing, walking, cycling. Fabulous.