The Big Six: Modern French chateaux

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Take your pick from a neo-classical pile, a 16th-century hunting lodge and a former military headquarters...

Chateau Les Merles, Dordogne

Built in 1677, Les Merles was rebuilt by one of Napoleon's generals in the early 19th century. Today the neo-classical pile boasts a golf course, tennis courts, restaurant, pool and vineyard. But the extravagance doesn't stop there. The black and white interior is offset by cerise and lime-upholstered antique chairs and a jumble of vintage and contemporary furniture.

Chateau Les Merles, Tuilières, Mouleydier, Dordogne, Aquitaine (00 33 5 53 63 13 42; lesmerles.com). Doubles start at €120, room only.

Chateau de Massillan, Vaucluse

This 16th-century hunting lodge is surrounded by parkland, woods, meadows and private vineyards; celebrated producers such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape lie just beyond. The chateau's owners, a pair of interior designers, have decorated the 12 rooms in luxurious style, marrying antiques with contemporary furniture. All the rooms open on to their own terrace, leading to a courtyard, terrace and pool.

Chateau de Massillan, Chemin Hauteville, Uchaux, Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (00 33 4 90 40 64 51; chateau-de-massillan.com). Doubles start at €195, room only.

Le Petit Chateau, Gers

After being destroyed in the French Revolution, La Petit Chateau was rebuilt in 1827 by Monsieur Guitou. He dedicated it to the memory of his wife who died in a hot-air balloon accident on the chateau's grounds. Recently updated, the interior is grand and suitably elegant. Yet it conveys a contemporary edge through whitewashed walls, clean lines and eclectic furniture, such as oversize single four-posters and damask fabrics. The chateau also offers opportunities for walking, golfing and even ballooning, if you'll risk it.

Le Petit Chateau, Le Guitou, Marciac, Gers, Midi-Pyrenées (00 33 5 62 69 83 30; le-petit-chateau.fr). Doubles start at €90, including breakfast.

Chateau de la Couronne, Charente

Alongside five spacious suites – each filled with design classics, modern art and eclectic global objets – this turreted manor house has three large salon areas dotted with Starck chairs, a Chappell grand and a mini music studio. It also boasts a cinema, swimming pool and billiard room. The chateau can also be rented in its entirety, sleeping 26 guests.

Chateau de la Couronne, Marthon, Charente, Poitou-Charentes (00 33 5 45 62 29 96;chateaudelacouronne.com). Doubles start at €145, room only.

Chateau de Noyelles, Somme

Behind a grand, gated entrance lies this small but impressive chateau just minutes from the Bay of Somme. Inside is a contemporary take on traditional French style: natural hues, modern light fittings and stripped wooden floors – a far cry from the German military headquarters it served as during the Second World War.

Chateau de Noyelles, 28-30 rue du Maréchal Foch, Noyelles-sur-Mer, Somme, Picardy (00 33 3 22 23 68 70; www.chateaudenoyelles.com). Doubles start at €95, room only.

Chateau de Miotz, Pyrenées-Atlantiques

This modest blue-shuttered chateau is close to the Spanish border, just south of Biarritz. Renovated this year, the five rooms have wooden floors, bold wallpapers and luxurious fabrics. More traditional touches include chandeliers, stained glass windows, mosaic-tiled floors and a small chapel.

Chateau de Miotz, Villefranque, St-Jean-de-Luz, Pyrenées-Atlantiques, Aquitaine (00 33 5 59 63 60 39; en.chateaudemiotz.com). Doubles start at €180, including breakfast.

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