Alexandre Dumas’ fanciful country retreat outside Paris is worthy of its imaginative literary namesake, The Count of Monte-Cristo. Getting to the Château de Monte-Cristo made me feel like I was in an episode of The Amazing Race. I took the Metro in Paris, then a commuter train to the suburbs, followed by a bus ride. Finding the château is part of the fun.

To reach Dumas’ retreat, you walk along a wooded path, through man-made caves, and past a waterfall. Each room in the château presents a different facet of Dumas’ life, from his affinity for gourmet cooking to his exotic travels. Also on the property is a stone tower Dumas had built for his office, which he named Château d’If after the prison in The Count of Monte-Cristo.

Take an armchair visit through the château, and learn about its colorful history, in my article on France Today magazine’s website. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt