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Trip Report Loire Valley - lovely Gite

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We recently returned from a wonderful trip to France (and Turkey), which included 5 days in the Loire Valley and a week in Brittany. Thank you to all those kind Fodorites that shared their trip reports – I spent hours poring over them.
For the Loire Valley part of the trip we settled on staying in, or near, Chinon. It was a well recommended area and seemed centrally located for a 5 day stay. As a family of 4 (all adults) I was surprised how hard it was to find what seemed to be nice self-catering accommodation for a reasonable price. We finally settled on a 3 bedroom gite, called La Bonne Avoine, in the little village of Avoine, about 7km from Chinon. http://www.france-voyage.com/locations-vacances/location-maison-avoine-46760.htm . We loved everything about the rental!! The owners were very easy to deal with over the internet. The gite is tastefully furnished, immaculately presented and very well equipped. The location is very quiet and private, yet centrally located in the little village – just a few minutes’ walk to the bakery and also the local supermarket, which was more than adequate for supplies. We highly recommend the gite and would definitely stay there again.
Whilst there, we visited the following places:
• Chambord – our first chateau and the favourite of one of our daughters. Loved all the spires and the grandeur of the castle - preferred the outside / on the roof and outside alleyways to the inside.
• Chenonceau– the favourite of the rest of the family. Beatitfully set over the water, with gorgeous gardens (abundant pink roses and lavender). Interesting interior with amazing flower arrangements. Loved the ballroom.
• Samur - don’t recommend going inside the chateau – more impressive outside. Lovely town to wander through or do some shopping.
• Chinon - didn't really explore the town. Walked up to the chateau but didn't go in (don't regret that decision though). Imagine it would be lovely to walk along the river - pathways along were very nice.
• Chateau d'Usse - beautiful castle from the outside. A little gimmicky on the inside though. (Inspiration for Sleeping Beauty)
• Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau: loved the castle from the outside. Also enjoyed the interior. Gardens simple but pleasant to walk through. Water around castle very picturesque.
• Chateau Villandry - loved the renaissance gardens! Chateau was interesting, and lovely views overlooking the gardens from inside.
• Clos Luc - really enjoyed seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s home and models of some of his inventions

Hope this is of some help to others planning their trips.

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