Château de la Bastie d'Urfé
1061 Route de la Batie d'Urfé, 42130 Saint-Étienne-le-Molard, France
Grotto made of pebbles, seashells and sandIn the middle of a chateau built with a Catholic God in mind is this most unusual grotto, a rock garden of sorts that 'guards' the entrance to the chapel. It is filled with Renaissance statuary, collected by the owner during a stint as a diplomat in Italy. What's most surprising begins to appear when you take a closer look at this cavern. Here are there are symbols of paganism, sects and even Templars yet the religiosity of the owner/builder, Claude d'Urfe, can't be doubted. His travels to Italy may have broadened his mind somewhat, encouraging him to explore diversity upon his return. Either way it's something unique in France. The grounds are also stunning, manicured and almost perfect, and it's all set in a region that is rarely visited because it's just slightly off the beaten path (even though it's just over an hour's drive from Lyon).