When we used to go to Paris frequently, back between 2003 and 2008, we tried all sorts of different routes to get there from Saint-Aignan. We were looking for picturesque roads where it wasn't to easy to get lost and where we wouldn't have to pay the high tolls they charge on the French autoroutes.
The road we finally settled on took us through the Sologne (woods and tiny villages) around the south side of Orléans (a fairly big city) and to the northeast toward Fontainebleau, where we could jump on the toll-free autoroute into Paris at the Porte d'Orléans and drive easily to our old stomping grounds in the Latin Quarter. Along the way, we discovered the château de Bellegarde, at the halfway point in the four-hour trip.
I stopped at Bellegarde again last Saturday morning on the way to Paris to see CHM. It had been a while. It's one of my favorite places because there's never anybody else there. The château itself is empty, as far as I know, and you can't go inside. There's something about the brick building that reminds me of the Sologne region near us, and of brick buildings back in North Carolina and Virginia. Of course, Bellegarde is much grander than such places.
Here are posts about Bellegarde that I wrote in 2006 and 2007, when we used to stop there regularly. I'll always feel an attachment to the place because we stumbled upon it by accident and it reminds me of our first years in France. The village it's in is one of those lost-in-time places that reminds me of our first years in France. This time, two boys were fishing in the moat around the château. I saw them haul in one little fish as I watched them and took photos.