A week in the Loire Valley: too long?

Jul 4th, 2007, 01:02 PM
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A week in the Loire Valley: too long?

Advice appreciated! Have been scouting house rentals in Provence and Loire valley. Prices on rentals in the Loire on sites such as Abritel are amazing and, not surprisingly, way cheaper than Provence (where we have been many times but never enough.) Question: do you all think that there is enough to do on a first-ever visit (June/July 2008) to the Loire area to keep a fairly lazy family (but one that likes to eat, hike/walk and drink, plus visit chateaux) occupied for a week? We also like to just relax by the pool and read, etc., so we are, I guess, pretty lazy...
msm4 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 01:09 PM
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If you are visiting châteaux in the area, after about 4 or 5 of them, they will all start to look like each other. Be sure you have enough other activities. A trip to the nearest coastal area would be in order.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 01:13 PM
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Thanks, Kerouac, that makes sense - kind of like testing too many perfumes, I guess. OK, any suggestions for coastal areas? Lazy, like I said...
msm4 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 01:34 PM
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a week in the Loire would be great, IMO.

as well as chateaux, there are gardens [villandry, chaumont, angers] towns, [tours, Blois, saumur, angers], abbeys [Fontavraud], plus caves, wine tastings, walks, bike rides, or just sitting around having a rest.

if you stay towards the western end, try to get to "le puy de fou" at Cholet- a french theme park focussing on the history of the area - it's a great family day out. And if you start now, you should have time to book to see their son et lumiere production - which is fantastic.

In fact, I'm not sure a week is enough!

regards, ann
annhig is online now  
Jul 4th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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All that annhig said, plus troglodyte dwellings, cave carvings (can't remember the name of the place -- it's about halfway between Gennes and Doue-la-Fontaine), some very good eating, miscellaneous things like mushroom production in caves, a tank museum at Saumur, and more. There is a great variety of chateaux, ranging from massive fortifications to grand houses, and from different periods, so you could find more variety than kerouac suggests.

Best of all, for a lazy family, is an easy pace of life.
Padraig is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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My last trip to the Loire Valley was for one week, but I can happily see 2-3 chateaux per day. I find the chateaux to be quite different from one another, with varying sizes and architectural styles and history. In addition to the other activities mentioned, this is a great area for hot air balloon rides and son et lumiere shows. Also, since it is relatively flat, this is a great place to bike.
gabriele is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 06:11 PM
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There is plenty to do in the Loire for a week.

besides the real chateaux, there are also older military style fortresses, beautiful gardens, cute towns, historic cathedrals, interesting wineries - and plenty of room for hiking or biking or ??

And don;t forget to do at least one of the son et lumiere performances one evening - brilliant.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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Heavens, no! I used to be a tour guide in the Loire Valley in another lifetime and have gone back a half-dozen times since then for 5- to 10-day trips at a time. There's way more than enough to see and do in a week!
StCirq is online now  
Jul 4th, 2007, 10:25 PM
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I'm planning on 5 nights in the Loire Valley and a fellow fodorite suggested a day trip to Il De Re (on the coast). I plan to do this on the 3rd day - just to have an interesting break from the Chateaux. The island sounds quite lovely and perfect for a day trip from Tours area.
stormbird is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 10:36 PM
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A week sounds absolutely marvelous!
luvtotravel is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 04:19 AM
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WoW! Thank you all so much for the advice, suggestions and encouragement. Makes us want to leave tomorrow! Any additional thoughts about trip timing (June or July) in re: weather?
msm4 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 04:45 AM
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I much prefer June.

Some years July can be uncomfortably hot. Last year we ran away to Brittany. [It was exceptional weather, a heatwave.]

The numbers visiting the chateaux and other attractions are lower in June.
Padraig is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 08:00 AM
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My last visit was for 9 days and i hope to spend another week there in a couple of years.
bigtyke is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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In general, the western and eastern Loire are less crowded than the central Loire. Amboise is one of the most popular places to stay in the central Loire and is good for visiting Chambord and Chenonceau, as well as its own sights.
The eastern Loire verging into Berry is the least explored part of the region. There is a great deal to see and do around Bourges and into Berry, you may find you have a castle and its grounds all to yourselves (as we did on our visit to one castle south of Bourges).
We prefer the western Loire because of the mild climate, the delights of the city of Angers, the castles and other sights in the region and the ease of getting to the coast. However (just my opinion) some of the villages we drove through near Angers seemed just a little TOO quiet (in June). We stayed in Angers so we could enjoy its sights and parks and walk to its many good (and inexpensive!) restaurants.
BTilke is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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There are also a lot of town festivals in the summer time. I fondly remember a medieval festival one August in Chinon.

At night, many chateaus will offer "Sons et Lumieres" shows that include music, narration and "slides" show on to the castle/chateau. When I went to Le Lude, they actually had damsels and soldiers on horses riding across the fields.

I used the Michelin Green guidebook as my source. Gives routes, sights, restaurants, etc.. You can visit small cities and large.

If you want to see museums, there are also a few good ones in the Loire. Also, the Loire is known for its wine, so you could do some winery visits. Hiking,canoeing, and bike rentals might also fill your days.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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We tend to move around more than most, but if I had a week I'd spend half in the eastern Loire and half in the western. Then you wouldn't be backtracking when you made your day trips.
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