Château de Chambord is the largest of the Loire châteaux, and is renowned for its renaissance architecture. Ascend to the roof for a close up view of its fabulously decorated façades and gardens, its grandeur is breathtaking. Building began in 1519 by François I and was completed in 1685. Inside, large cavernous halls lead off the double spiral staircase that was supposedly designed by Leonardo de Vinci; people ascending the staircase do not meet people descending. During the French revolution, most of the contents were sold and for a time it was abandoned. If you haven’t visited the châteaux of the Loire, Château de Chambord is a good place to start.