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Another France Change of Plans: Help With Loire and Normandy Appreciated

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Well, we've changed our Fall 2012 trip once again. We've decided after our five nights in Sarlat to head north to the Loire, Mont Saint-Michel and Normandy before ending in Paris. We are saving Languedoc and Provence for another journey where we will have more time to see each area along with some of the Dordogne we miss on this trip

In the Loire, we we have stayed in Amboise (1998) before and liked it. What is your favorite base? I thought we might stay near Angers the last night (planning on total of four nights in Loire) to make for a shorter drive to MSM.

Because it is the way we travel, we will pack in as many chateaus as is humanely possible, which will make all the Slow Travel people shudder, but we did this in the late 1990s and never experienced the dreaded "Chateau Overload." But from now on, I am planning every trip like it's my last one. I can sleep when I die!

Chateaux (Chateaus...I never know which way to spell it) on my list include:
Amboise (with a stop also at Clos Lucé)
Angers (remember ,never look back in Angers)
Azay-le-Rideau
Blois
Chambord
Chaumont sur Loire (because we missed the gardens last time we were there, and its festival is still on in early October)
Chenonceau
Cheverney (I loved the hounds...I think that's the place)
Ruins at Chinon (remember I enjoyed that)
Lots of Chateaux, eh?
Saumur (yes, there are even Saumur chateaus to discover)

Don't know about Valencay (looks interesting). Any others we should see? skip?

Not going to go inside Ussé. I remember I thought it was kind of cheesy last time.
I think it will be too late for gardens at Villandry.

Somehow we will have to find some time for some wine, and if I remember there are wine caves we could visit (hmm, that might cut out some of those chateaus (no matter how you spell them).

Also looking for hotel/inn recommendations in Bayeux and Honfleur area. Is there a D-Day tour anyone has been on recently? Mary's dad was part of the invasion, so we'd like to do one for maybe a half-day.

We'd like to keep in the $100 - $150 a night range if possible for lodging.

At least we have booked the flight, so barring any near-death scenarios (always a possibility with us), it is France here we come.

Thanks.

((H))

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