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

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Mar 26th, 2012, 12:58 PM
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Another France Change of Plans: Help With Loire and Normandy Appreciated

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.

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Mar 26th, 2012, 01:12 PM
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Everyone has their own pace Tom and only you know yours best.

Our most recent trip we stayed in Beaugency and the Ecu de Bretagne. Pretty far east for most people's tastes but the hotel suited us, teen daughter even got her own room, the town pleasant and doing some extra driving is not a problem.

I recently read Ina Caro's excellent "The Road from the Past". There is a wonderful section on the Loire. For example, I've been to Amboise 3 times over the years yet never knew there used to be lions kept in the moat! You'll find the book handy for future trips to Languedoc and Provence too. Hope this helps get the ball rolling...
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Mar 26th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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Hi, Tom.

I've done a number of 4- to 5-day trips through the Loire and like to split up my bases: 2 nights in Amboise or Blois and 2 nights in Saumur (or Angers, but we've never spent nights there). If you want one single base from which you can do a couple of days east and a couple of days west, Chinon is perfect.

In Angers, BTW, besides the tapestries in the château, see if you can go across town and see Jean Lurçat's interpetation of them (he also has tapestries in the Dordogne outside St-Céré.

Just outside Saumur is the Cave de Saumur, a good place for oenophiles. There's also the town of Vouvray, and Sanceree, and lots of others. You won't be wanting for wine.

In Bayeux we stayed at the Château de la Bellefontaine, just on the edge of town - 5 minute walk into the center. Loved it, but it doesn't have a restaurant (not a big issue - there are plenty in Bayeux). In Honfleur, I like the Hôtel l'Ecrin.
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Mar 26th, 2012, 01:25 PM
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"I recently read Ina Caro's excellent "The Road from the Past". "

Thanks PA, I will pick up a copy.

SC,

Nice to know "I won't be wanting for wine." Chinon sounds like an interesting idea. I will start scouting out places. Thanks.

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Mar 26th, 2012, 02:27 PM
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Don't forget the Abbaye de Fontevraud (Fontevraud Abbey) outside Chinon. Resting place (at least for the tombs) of King Henry II and Richard I of England, Eleanor d'Acquitaine and Isabella of Angoulême.

Take the carriage exit out of Chateau d'Amboise.

Yes, Cheverny has the hounds, and all the Tintin stuff.

Saumur's chateau should be about rebuilt or close to it. Saumur also has the Musee des Blindes - the tank museum.
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Mar 26th, 2012, 02:50 PM
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Also in the vicinity of Chenonceau you should include a visit to Loches and it's château/fortress ruin if you haven't seen it. The nearby châteaux of Montrésor and Montpoupon would be good additions to this day. Then there's Saint-Aignan just east of here. I would also add another medieval château/fortress in the town of Langeais.

http://www.loches-tourainecotesud.co...ex.php?lang=en

http://www.loches-tourainecotesud.co...id=138&lang=fr

http://www.tourisme-langeais.com/en/

http://www.tourisme-valdecher-staignan.com/

If you want some ideas for Normandy near Bayeux and Honfleur check out these threads:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#39058384

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#37142728

The Bayeux tourist office website has info about D-Day tours and guides. All tourist office websites have info about accommodation and restaurants.
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Mar 26th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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"Don't forget the Abbaye de Fontevraud (Fontevraud Abbey)"

That's the place I've been trying to think of all day that's been driving me crazy. Thanks BR.

FMT, We saw Langeais before, however the châteaux (I am assuming with your track record that you are correct with that spelling) of Montrésor and Montpoupon (there's gotta be a good joke in there for me somewhere) are now on the list. Thanks for all the info.

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Mar 26th, 2012, 03:24 PM
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Sounds like a great trip Mait. We stayed overnight in Blois,
David in Paris on the slowtrav forum rents a nice little apatrment in Honfleur.
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Mar 26th, 2012, 03:44 PM
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Château = Singular Châteaux = Plural

Montpoupon = Potty humor. Hehehe.
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Mar 26th, 2012, 04:56 PM
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A lot of people have recommended the Hotel Churchill in Bayeux. Right behind it is the square from which the guided D-Day landing tours leave.
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Mar 26th, 2012, 05:56 PM
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I'll second BigRuss's recommendation for the Abbaye de Fontevraud. You can even stay there and explore the grounds on your own at night. (And the room rate includes admission - just make sure you get a ticket from the desk.)

> I think it will be too late for gardens at Villandry

Do check into that. As I recall, as long as you get in before the gate closes, you can stay and roam around the gardens.

Enjoy!
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Mar 26th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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If driving from the Dordogne up to the Loire valley, you may want to visit Oradour-sur-Glane,
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57623276890499

Saint-Savin and/or Poitiers, Meillant also has an interesting chateau, with a miniature Medieval village built in the former stables.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57623276890499
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57623276890499
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57624575935008
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Mar 26th, 2012, 08:40 PM
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Oh, yeah...Are you driving from the Dordogne to the Loire (I wouldn't do it ever...booooring...but if you are do stop at Oradour. If you're not, take the TVG from Libourne or Bordeaux to Tours and pick up your rental car there).
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Mar 26th, 2012, 11:44 PM
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Sounds like a great trip! We stayed in Loches last year and loved it - they also have a castle. If you search for Bikerscott (my hubby) you can see our trip report.

Also second StCirq's suggestion about Oradour sur Glane...very emotional.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 12:46 AM
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We just are returning from four days in Bayeux. Stayed in the new Hotel Villa Lara. It is adjacent and owned by the family that owns the Churchill. It was an excellent hotel. We booked a D-Day tour through Overlord Tours. they offer many options for full day, one-half day tours as well as specific Normandy campaigns.
We also booked the one day tour offered by the Churchill to Mont St. Michel. You have a 90 minute van ride each way and then three hours on Mont St. Michel. For us that was sufficient.

We rented a car one day and drove to Honfleur along the coast, passing through Deauville and Trouville on the way

We found many very good restaurants in Bayeux and it was a good base for Normandy
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Mar 27th, 2012, 06:36 AM
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Yes, we will be driving from Dordogne to Loire (one of the reasons is that we wanted to stop at Oradour sur Glane).

The drive shouldn't be too boring since we have our secret long-drive weapon in Mary. While Kim and Tracy sit in the backseat reading (at least I think that's what they're doing back there), Mary will be peppering me with an array of questions, and that drive will go by in an instant. I might drive right by Amboise if I'm not careful.

I will check out the Hotel Villa Lara and the Overlord Tours. We are hoping to spend our last night on the road in Honfleur. I remember sipping wine at the harbor and thinking about the painters who used that town as a canvas. At least that's what I think I remember. I had a lot of wine.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

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Mar 27th, 2012, 06:43 AM
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Has anyone seen the Bayeux tapestry? I've seen it on some of the 1000 things to see in one's lifetime lists. Is it worth recommending to the maitai's??? DH and I didn't get much into this area, darn it.

Have a great trip. Am looking forward to your usual fun TR!
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Mar 27th, 2012, 06:55 AM
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"Has anyone seen the Bayeux tapestry?"

TD, That is one of our reasons for going back. We saw the tapestry in 1998. It really was a highlight of our trip. Looking forward to seeing that guy with the arrow stuck in his eye again.

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Mar 27th, 2012, 07:39 AM
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Valencay is one of my favorite places to visit. Tallyrand lived, entertained, and decorated the chateau. The grounds are magnificent and vast. The chateau is gorgeous inside with most of the original furnishings. An audio guide is included with the tour and it is filled with fascinating information. On weekends mini-dramas are presented with costumed characters; the dialogue is in French but it is easy to follow even if you do not speak the language. Be sure to attend the kitchen presentation because complimentary wine is distributed.

Peacocks roam the grounds; flowers abound; there is even a small farm with chickens, goats, sheep, and other animals. Deer are kept in a separate enclosure. There is a maze, a lovely trail that leads through the grounds past the caves. You can follow in the footsteps of the Spanish Princes who were "imprisoned" at Valencay.

The town of Valencay is small but filled with interesting shops, bakeries, and more banks and ATMs than most small towns. Parking is free. There is a huge supermarche near the chateau. We always buy picnic supplies and eat at the picnic grounds at the chateau.

Tallyrand's tomb is at the local church; it is free.

The chateau is never crowded - I suppose because it is not as well-publicized and is a little farther away. It is clearly signposted from Chambord and Chevrny and maybe a 20 minute drive from either.
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Mar 27th, 2012, 08:38 AM
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The maze at Valençay is a great place to lose someone if you want to escape. Just ask my Mrs.
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