Europe has more than its fair share of royal families, each with their own illustrious histories, colourful characters, and of course, no shortage of grand, lavish estates. Us mere mortals can now vacation just like a member of royalty would at these secret chateaus and lodges.
A short train journey from Paris, the Loire Valley boasts one of Frances’s top few romantic regions. Magnificent chateaus are hidden throughout the verdant countryside, with long stretches of vineyards and cosy towns in between. Of all the maidens of the valley, Château du Grand-Lucé is undoubtedly the grandest – and loveliest – of the lot.
On its grounds, the Château du Grand-Lucé offers beautifully manicured gardens, creamy, elegant neoclassical architecture, and a village right on its doorstep. Le Grand-Lucé is as charming a French village as it gets, with two rustic bakeries, a beautiful 11th-century church, and spellbinding little roads to discover.
Even amongst royalty, some families tend to be more royal than others! There’s none more iconic and absolute than the British royal family and their superlative estates. Head into the lush Scottish Highlands, one of the many favourite retreats for Her Majesty, and into the Fife Arms, a majestic Victorian lodge that is as flamboyant and artistic as it is luxurious.
To immerse yourself in Scottish culture, be sure to check out the annual Braemar Gathering. The royal family, including the Queen herself, are yearly visitors to the annual Highland games, which include bagpipe bands, tug-o-war competitions, and other lively shows.
Outdoor enthusiasts will delight in the crisp air and freshness of the atmosphere that are the hallmarks of the highlands, with a wealth of activities for all seasons. Anglers can also indulge in a quiet afternoon of fishing on the River Dee, where fat salmon and sea trout await, all set against the picturesque background of the Cairngorms. The best way to get to Fife Arms is to rent a car in Edinburgh and drive north for about 2 hours on the M90 and A93, straight into Cairngorms National Park. chateaugrandluce.com & thefifearms.com ◼
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© This article was first published in Apr-May 2019 edition of World Travel Magazine.