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What area to stay in the Loire valley?

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Hi

I'm going to the Loire valley in late July with my family (Dad-63, Mom-54, Sister-32 and my boyfirend - 28). We are renting a car from Gare du Nord station(is this a good idea or too scary???) and plan on spending 2 nights somewhere in the Loire valley. Does anyone have any suggestions on the nicer towns to stay in? We will have a car so we will be able to get to places and don't need to be too close to transport links. We don't want to stay in an area crawling with tourists(although I do realise that at that time of year it will be busy!). We just want simple accommodation in a lovely, peaceful area with some nice restaurants close by and we would like to do day trips to castles and wine farms. Any help will be greatly appreciated and if anyone has a 3 day itinery that would be great too!

Thanks!

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