france- is this possible??

Jan 7th, 2015, 03:57 AM
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france- is this possible??

experts pls advice is my plan traveling with my husband and daughters 8 and 12…
land cdg 8 a.m rent a car chk in at some place in amboise and try to visit
Chateau de Chenonceau
Donjon de Montrichard,
La Magnanerie
if not too tired
day 2 - Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire
Chateau d'Amboise
Clos Luce Manor
Parc des Mini-Chateaux
day 3- check out from amboise hotel
Les Grottes Petrifiantes
Chateau de Villandry
Chateau d' Azay-le-Rideau
Chateau d'Usse (Rigny-Usse)
check in chinon hotel
day 4 - Chateau de chinon
The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud
Saumur Castle
day - 5 Nantes
day - 6 visit the lovely towns of Guérande, Le Croisic
day 7 - check out from nantes and visit Zoo and Botanical Garden of Branféré
St.-Goustan (Auray)
Vannes check in hotel
day 8 - cannes
day 9 - Pont avent
day 10 - oceanopolis
take train or drive to paris for 5 days


and cdg 8 a.m rent a car chk in at some place in amboise and try to visit below in 5 days
Chateau de Chenonceau
Donjon de Montrichard,
La Magnanerie
Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire
Chateau d'Amboise
Clos Luce Manor
Parc des Mini-Chateaux
check out from amboise hotel
Les Grottes Petrifiantes
Chateau de Villandry
Chateau d' Azay-le-Rideau
Chateau d'Usse (Rigny-Usse)
check in chinon hotel
Chateau de chinon
The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud
Saumur Castle
Zoo de Doue-la-Fontaine
day 6 - Grand Parc du Puy du Fou
check in hotel at la rochella
day 7 aquarium plus city
day -8 Île de Ré
day 9 - drop car take train to paris
6 days in paris

any suggestion will b super helpful
rankasej is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 04:10 AM
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I didn't read all your options but saw enough to recommend:

a) get a map and check out the distances between all these places
b) divide the number of sights by 2 and increase the number of days, or just take out many of the sights are there are too many
c) don't rent a car at 8am from CDG, apart from it not being a good idea after a long haul flight esp with kids, I think you might find the traffic a bit heavy.
Odin is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 04:49 AM
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No - this is just not even close to possible. Even if you remove half of your stops it would be a very aggressive trip for just adults - never mind with kids who will need some time off this type of forced march to just relax and play.

We spent 6 days in the Loire and saw 2 chateaux per day - except for one day that we added a son et lumiere in the evening.

First you cannot assume you will see anything the day you land - getting to the town you will stop in and a tiny bit of exploring (perhaps roam through one town) and an early dinner is the most you can do.

You have not allowed

1) time to get to the chateaux - most are deep in the countryside and can be reached only by narrow local roads with fairly low speeds.

2) You need to allow time to park and walk to the chateau and time to actually see anything. Get a Michelin green guide which will give details and tell you how long it takes to see a chateau/other site. You can drive past in 15 minutes but to see everything you need to allow at least 2 or 3 hours up to 5 or so for the larger ones with extensive grounds.

3) You have to look at opening days and times. The chateaux are typically not open at night unless there is a son et lumiere (separate admission charge) and that means getting back to your hotel at 11 pm or so.

Finally - if your plane lands at 8 am by the time you allow for immigration, picking up luggage, getting to the car rental, getting and flight testing/inspecting the car it will 11 am or so by the time you are ready to drive off.

You really need to look at local conditions and drive times - since mostly you will be on narrow local roads - not highways on which you can drive at high speeds. has info - but the times do not include time for fueling up, rest stops or getting a drink or snack (not accidents, bad weather or road construction)

Finally I would talk to your kids to find out their must sees and some activities they may be interested in - bike rides, rowing boats, local playgrounds - and allow some time for that each day - as well as eating meals and even getting a little sleep.

We have done numerous road trips in many parts of europe - and your itinerary much more closely resembles the Bataan death march than a vacation.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 04:57 AM
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Agree with a couple of things mentioned so far:

- Get a map. You need to see exactly where the various places are in relation to each other.

- Cut the number of places to visit by a significant number. If not, you'll have no clue which place is which by the time you get back.

Also, unless it's Saturday or Sunday, if you're picking a car up at CDG around 8am, you'll be much happier if your first destination is somewhere toward the north. Traffic heading south will be miserable.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 05:06 AM
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2 chateaux total for the whole trip is enough for me, and probably the children. Seeing period decorated rooms is about as dull as a thing one can do on a visit to Europe.
tom_mn is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 05:09 AM
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top of my list [out of the ones you have mentioned] for a holiday with kids would be the Zoo de Doue, the Puy de Fou, [the best theme park we've ver been to] the aquarium at La Rochelle, and Villandry. Amboise with the Clos de Luce and the odd other chateaux should be fitted in amongst those, IMO. Fontavraud is also a good choice with kids - the tombs of the Plantagenets are worth seeing. [also in the church at Candes on the Loire].

if you are travelling towards the end of June or in July or August, the son et lumiere at the Puy de Fou should be a priority - called the cinescenie, it is a fantastic show featuring no less than 1000 people and animals, plus fireworks, knights jousting across a lake, and all sorts of fun. it is very popular with the french so you would need to organise this asap. Also it doesn't finish until after midnight so you'd want to be staying somewhere nearby, and this goes quickly too.

Saumur would be a good place to stay to see the places in the west of your itinerary, possibly Blois for those in the east, but were I you, I'd be looking for a week's let in a gite near Saumur, [good for Dou le Fontaine and Puy de fou as well as most of the chateaux on your list] then head west to La Rochelle and get the train to Paris from there.

IME kids much prefer being able to put down roots, even for a week, and you won't run out of things to do in that area.
annhig is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 05:28 AM
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lol…i guess I've overdone whole thing a bit too much …ill cut off few places for sure ..annhig your suggestions I'm gonna try to work on …
rankasej is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 07:06 AM
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My eyes started to blur on day 1. Sorry, but you are really trying to do way too much. That can't be stated strongly enough. We spent 5 days in the Loire 2 years ago with our girls, then 7 and 10. We visited a total of 2 chateaux (Chenonceau and Azay le Rideau). About 16 years ago my hubs and I visited the Loire for 3-4 days (pre-kids) and even then, unencumbered, our max was 1-2 chateau a day.

Are you staying in a gite or hoping to just 'find a place' when you get there? I can't tell from your post. You ought to consider finding a gite or rental for the 5-6 days you're in the Loire, so the kids can settle in somewhere.

Also, you don't seem to have any down time planned for the kids or yourself.

Is there a reason you're going straight to the Loire Valley? (Rather than just starting the trip in Paris?) I personally am not very functional that first day, and I wouldn't want to drive anywhere so close to my flight.
skatterfly is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 07:16 AM
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Agree that trying to drive on Day 1 may be tricky. I would get a train from CDG to a convenient place [Blois?] spend the night in a hotel not too far from the station, then collect a car from the station and start the journey proper.

I think that the OP is thinking about the gite idea skatterfly - I hope that she realises that it would need to be booked in advance.

depending on flight times, it might make sense to put the Loire part of the trip at the end of the holiday; that would mean doing Paris first, then getting a train to the furthest point [La Rochelle?] renting a car, and working their way back.

Driving the car to CDG on the last day could be the best option, depending of course on the flight time.
annhig is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 07:58 AM
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hi ..i was thinking to keep paris last to be able to shop back before flying home …i plan to book all my accommodation beforehand..would prefer hotels to gite though..
maybe i can split paris to start and end and keep rest in between..
skatterfly u mentioned visiting loiree for 5 days with your girls and visited 2 castles..did u do something else apart this ?
thanks for help
rankasej is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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rankasej - good idea to book everything in advance especially with kids [though I have to say that we didn't on our first trip to France with our kids, but we had done several tours by ourselves before that]

it usually isn't a good idea to split up a stay and normally it makes sense to stay in the nearest place to the airport at the end of the trip - but it's a good idea to check your flight times as well, just to make sure that it is the best option.

if, as i usually the case, you arrive at CDG at about breakfast time, it's a good choice to spend the day travelling [preferably by train] rather than just going into Paris. so you could have breakfast at the airport, get the train to Blois [or wherever], check into the hotel ,have a walk and a nice french meal and go to bed.

Next day perhaps have another look round Blois then pick up your car, and have a gentle drive to ??. spend 5-6 days there, return car to nearest station with car hire depot, then get train into Paris, finish your trip.

Why do you not fancy a gite?
annhig is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 08:37 AM
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1) Paris at the end
2) Fewer castles
3) Ile de Re and La Rochelle are really good plan and a great chance for the kids to break loose.
4) I'd receommned a Gite in one of the smaller towns rather than in the sticks. That way you can buy stuff in the market (great fun) rather than schlep the stuff back from a supermarket. (also roast chickens and a whole variety of chopped veg/meats can be bought in French specialist shops in most towns which can make for easy to eat meals).
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 7th, 2015, 08:43 AM
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Has she forgotten that her children may not like all those chateaus? I don't care for that many.
don't split the trip--go outside Paris first and leave Paris for last
And it isn't even wildly possible to cover what she is proposing.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 08:51 AM
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chateaux are NOT castles (mostly) they are pleasure palaces built (much later) for kings or highest aristocracy to entertain and amuse large grups of people with court and countryside pursuits. There aer a few that actually did start out as casltes/fortresses.

There is a lot else to do in the Loire - Fontevraud was mentioned as was the town and clos Luce Manor house in Amboise. I would look at the chateaux carefully to see which has waht you want. Villandry has gorgeous gardens. Others have beautiful grounds. Some have quite a bit of furniture while others are basically empty - and the history of each can be important (but perhaps not of the kids unless they know in advance.) They would probably love at least one son et lumiere.

If I were you I would stay at one of the private chateaux for a great experience and also giving the kids some time in the grounds. Many have pools and other activities in the grounds (without being the ultra $ resort type). We stayed at a fifteenth century chateau - Chateau des Reaux - near Chinon that was low key (nice grounds with stream for exploring, beautiful library with game room for guests) and a wonderful dinner one night en famille with guests from several other countries. All the food and wine came form the estate and the talk was fascinating - but perhaps not for kids that age. Prices for double rooms were very moderate.

You might want to check some of the others to see which have activities (biking, canoes etc) kids would enjoy. Typically they provide only breakfast - with some having dinner (fixed menu) available on some nights.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 09:04 AM
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YOu can't do option 1 first day. Don't count on doing anything other than getting to hotel and checking in. Wander around if you have enough energy, in that town. If you really have to visit a chateau that day, just visit the one right in town, of course (Amboise).

I rather enjoy period rooms myself but the fact is some of these chateaux don't even have furnishings, the rooms are empty, or many of them. That's pretty dull.

I think the general plan would be to have some ideas, sure, and a base area, and then when you get there you can decide if you really need to visit all those chateaux.
Christina is online now  
Jan 7th, 2015, 09:10 AM
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I would certainly add Chambord to your chateaux list - but I would drop about half of the others. We visited Chambord & Chenonceau on one day each, and that's all we did on those days. We visited the Gardens of Villandry in one morning (4 hrs), and then Langais because it was close to Villandry - but a 45 min drive from where we stayed - and we didn't want to make it 2 trips. Usse was a little bland on the inside. Same with Azey le Rideau (compared to the fabulous exterior). We walked around the Donjon de Montrichard, but it didn't seem interesting enough to lure us inside (Montrichard has a very nice farmer's market).

We returned a car in Blois. I'm not 100% sure the car rental offices are near the train station. Europcar was outside of the center of town in an industrial area, but they let us return the car at the Anne de Bretagne hotel - which was next to the station. I don't think pick up was allowed there. I saw an Avis flag at the train station - but no office.

We love chateaux, but as others have said - make sure you and your kids will not get "Chateaued out". Except for Chinon, and perhaps Angers & Nantes, we did not find the cities in the Loire area to be that interesting. So if you get your fill of chateaux after 3 - there are not many other things in the "A to B" category to do there, IMO.

The Bridge fare to get on the Ile de Re was 16 Euros in the "season".

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 7th, 2015, 10:14 AM
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We had a total of 5 nights in the Loire, which amounted to 4 full days, but we also were traveling with other family members, so we had to adjust for family obligations and we only had essentially 3 days to ourselves.

We spent 1 day driving to and from Chenonceau (from near Chinon) and stopped somewhere along the way for lunch. You could easily spend hours and hours at Chenonceau. They have an outdoor maze, and a small animal farm. And it's a lovely chateau. I would not have pushed the kids to a second chateau that day.

We also spent 1 day driving to Azay le Rideau, a much smaller and cute little chateau, then we walked around through the village and stopped for chocolates at the exceptional chocolaterie there. (Some of their chocolates were fresher and more interesting than in Paris.) We spent the rest of that afternoon driving around and exploring villages.

We then spent 1 day renting bikes near Villandry and rode along the river, to Savonnieres, explored around town, then biked back. We brought jambon beurre sandwiches, and stopped along the way for a picnic. We didn't even go into Villandry because the kids were "Chateau-d" out at that point. (BTW, we brought our own helmets because we knew we'd be riding in the Loire and we also rode bikes out to Giverny.)

We also spent a couple hours of each day relaxing, starting our days with a walk into town for our morning pastries, seeing the village wake up. A couple of the days, in the late afternoon, we were back to the gite in time to snack on some local goat cheeses (St Maure, Valencay, and Selle Sur Cher, to name a few) and make a dent in the crazy amount of wine we all kept buying. A cold glass of rose, or a perfect bottle of Chinon, overlooking the gardens of our gite, was a great way to relax before prepping dinner each night.

The kids also took time every day to play on the grounds of the gite, the hostess let them play in the garden looking for snails. One of my daughters found a favorite tree and climbed into a low tree branch and started reading her book. If our gite had had a pool, the weather was warm enough in June that they could have relaxed that way, too.

We left the Loire knowing that we didn't see it all, but the purpose of that trip was to relax.

We're incredibly lucky to be going back this year, and we'll go see a few things we didn't make it to last time. Most importantly Clos de Luce and Villandry's gardens. We plan to rent bikes again, too. If we feel up to it, we might visit Chateau D'Amboise when we're visiting Close de Luce.

We aren't going to make a valiant effort to see more chateaux on this next visit. I kind of feel like if you pick a handful with the most interesting background, the most appealing look and feel, that fit into where you're staying, that's probably good enough.

You posted a long list of places and you ask if you can see them in 5 days... and I'd say, no way. Your kids will be miserable. It's really too much. I'd probably narrow that list to 1 thing a day, or maybe a second place if it's nearby.

Azay le Rideau is small enough to breeze through quickly but it's still a lot to take in. Even then I probably wouldn't try a second chateau in the same day unless it were a totally different kind, such as the walled fortress of Chinon. (Completely different kind of "chateau.")

There's also a small "fairy" chateau near Chinon called Chateau du Riveau... we never went but we might go see it on our next visit if we're looking for things to do. It looks tiny, and they've filled their garden with whimsical sculpture and a playground. It might be a fun way to break up the trip.

If I were you, I'd look seriously at the visitor websites and reviews for each of the items on your list, and see what appeals most to you. Pick 2-3 chateaux from your list based on what's most appealing to you and your kids: (Chenonceau, Chinon, Amboise, Villandry, Azay le Rideau, Chaumont sur Loire, Saumur, etc).

Also, my personal take is that Usse is best viewed from the road. Every time I think we should go into the grounds or the chateau, I'm reminded that a majority of the reviews are not so flattering: apparently the costumes are of the wrong period, they focus on the story of Sleeping Beauty and that the waxworks might be a little creepy to my younger child.

-I would definitely include Clos de Luce. The kids will love it.
-The Parc des mini Chateau looks really run down and in 4 trips to the Loire I've never heard anything about it. The reviews are also fairly consistently bad. I know my 9 and 12 year olds would be bored out of their mind there because they're more interested in what's *inside* the chateaux.
skatterfly is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 12:11 PM
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I just reread my post... and I can't believe I called Azay le Rideau "cute" ... I meant quaint. Perhaps it's cute when compared to the many imposing and much larger chateau. But it's a lovely and very typical chateau on the inside. The town itself is quite charming too (I think it was included in one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of the Loire" coffee table book)... but again, not sure how I typed cute instead of quaint.
skatterfly is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 04:41 PM
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If you are saving Paris to the end consider returning the car at one if the rail stations. Gare de Lyon is pretty easily reached from the périphérique (beltway) and within walking distance of lodging. There is a gas station on the south bank of the Seine under the périphérique that takes swipe credit cards.
tom_mn is offline  
Jan 7th, 2015, 08:09 PM
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Driving right after an international flight is not a great idea.
Even arriving early, by time you get luggage, get the car and drive, it will not be a good sightseeing day, plus the driver will be pretty tired by time you get anywhere. You have the cost of the car and gas the first day.

So, I am throwing out a completely different start of your trip for your consideration. I did this once when taking a small group, that included kids and teens, to France and it was a fantastic start to the trip.

There are several set-price van and shuttle services in Paris. Reserve one to pick you up at CdG and take you straight to the little town of Versailles. Settle into your hotel. Have lunch. Spend a relaxing afternoon exploring the gardens, lakes & grounds of Versailles, perhaps evening boating or biking, and get tickets to actually see the chateau the very first thing the next morning before busses arrive. Have a nice dinner and you are "done" for the day.

See the chateau early the next morning, then pick up your car or catch a train to continue the rest of your trip. Versailles is a sweet little town with some hotels right across the street from the chateau, a lovely market, and a variety of restaurants.

Thie won't be as cheap (roughly $120.00 versus about $50.00) as taking trains, etc. but you will save time and not have to lug suitcases around. It will be a way to see something special the first day without exhausting yourselves.

You were probably going to take a day while in Paris to visit Versailles anyway; this way, you won't have to.

As to the rest of hour trip. Others who are telling you to cut back on the number of chateau are giving you great advice. There is a lot more to France than that. Two a day and even the most devoted chateau lovers in our group was ready for other things,
Sassafrass is offline  

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