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Help with a day trip to Loire Valley from Paris (without a car)

Help with a day trip to Loire Valley from Paris (without a car)

Aug 9th, 2004, 02:56 PM
  #1  
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Help with a day trip to Loire Valley from Paris (without a car)

Hi, I'm thinking of taking a day trip to the Loire Valley without a car. It'd be great to hear your suggestions. I'll also link this thread to the Paris superthread here

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...2&tid=34519236

so others can have a reference thread in the future.

Which chateaux?
===============

I've read some chateaux comparisons here:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...2&tid=34494994

I've never been to the Loire Valley, and I think that seeing the big Cs makes sense. What do you think?

How to get there?
=================

I could take the train. This thread is pretty useful:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...2&tid=34517111

As far as I know, there're trains to Angers, Blois and Chenonceaux. I'm more interested in the Renaissance chateaux, so it doesn't seem like a train is necessarily the best option here (trains to Chenonceaux look limited).

It looks like I should take a train to Tours and I could then possibly join a tour that departs from the Tours tourist office:

http://www.ligeris.com/fra/excursions.html

Alternatively I could think about taking a Cityrama tour that brings me directly to the Loire, for example:

http://www.graylineparis.com/tour_detail.cfm?tour_id=59

Ideas?

Then there's a bike option, but this doesn't seem suitable for me for a day trip. I'll give a link here anyway:

http://www.mayq.com/Best_european_tr...ire/Loire2.htm

It looks like one can take a train to Blois and then bike to Chambord and/or Chenonceau (about 15 km from Blois).

Would love to hear your comments. Thanks! Any links to old threads would also be very welcome.

111op is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 06:05 PM
  #2  
yk
 
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Since no one has answered you yet, I'll tell you what I did back in 1994 with public transport. I cannot recall any details, but I believe I used trains & buses (I'm pretty sure I didn't hitch-hike )

3days:
Blois, Chambord, Cheverny, Amboise, Chenonceau, Tours, Azay-le-Rideau

It's hard to tell you which ones you should go, but if you like Leonardo, I guess you should visit Amboise + others. With just one day, you're quite limited with where you can visit if you choose to go by yourself. So I guess your best bet is either take a tour, or stay overnight somewhere.

Sorry, not very helpful. Maybe you can read up on the *potential* castles to see which one(s) interest you most? I have 2 picture guide books I bought back then, if you really want, you can borrow them. I can mail them to you.
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Aug 9th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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I took a couple of weeks to tour the Loire valley back in early May 2001. Most of it was by train, but I did have a rental car for a bit.

I think the organized day trips out of Paris are a little pricey. I'd take the train. If you take the slower train out of Gare Austerlitz, you can go directly to Blois or Amboise. If you take the TGV you'll have to change trains in Tours which could end up taking more time in the long run.

Blois is a bigger town. I liked the history of the chateau with the Medici family. It had a nice pedestrian area. There was a WWII resistance museum along the water. Opposite the chateau entrance is a museum of magic.

Amboise is smaller but is an excellent town to visit too. Besides Leonardo daVinci's Clos de Luce residence and the chateau, there's the little enchanted house museum.

You could feasibly see both in a long day trip but I wouldn't push myself that hard even with knowing that I could doze on the train.

I would also prefer to see one town in a day rather than show up in Tours, get on a minibus and slam-dunk through 3 chateaux in a day. Personally 1 chateau a day is enough for me.
indytravel is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 07:22 PM
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Train to Tours and hook up with the half-day or full-day minibus tours that leave from the station. See a couple or several chateaus; otherwise by public transportation you could get to one castle only on a day trip from Paris. You could rail to Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, Amboise or Chaumont. The Chenonceaux train station is smack by the Chenonceau castle entrance but there are only a few trains a day so know your schedules via www.sncf.com/voyages site. ACCO-DISPO is one minibus company. Minibus tours also go from Blois and Amboise, both on the Paris-Austerlitz-Les Aubrais-St. Pierre-des-Corps rail line.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 03:36 AM
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Last December we took the early morning train from Paris to Tours and then used Acco-Dispo. We saw all the major chateaux and then caught the train that evening back to Paris. Very easy and not at all rushed, but, then again, it was December!
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Aug 10th, 2004, 04:15 AM
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Thanks everyone, and thanks, yk for the guidebook offer. I actually bought the Michelin guide book on the chateaux to flip through and I've returned it. Maybe I'll get a guidebook when the trip is closer.

Basically it looks like if I want to see more, I'll have to take a tour. I'll think about it.

Does someone know if the Blois tourist office offers tour options as well or what the bus links look like from Blois? I found the tourist office website at

http://www.loiredeschateaux.com

but unlike the website for Tours tourist office, it doesn't list any excursions. It'd be nice to compare if that information is available somewhere.

111op is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 09:27 AM
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In the past the Blois Office de Tourisme did offer mini-bus tours and in summer there is (or was) a shuttle bus that went to nearby Chambord, in my opinion the most impressive-looking of the chateaus. Blois has about hourly non-TGV trains from Paris-Austerlitz and Tours' St-Pierre-des-Corps stations.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 09:30 AM
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I gather that Chambord is the most massive chateau. Do you prefer this to Chenonceau?
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Aug 10th, 2004, 09:48 AM
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To see the largest number of the most important chateaux, I would suggest that you swallow your pride and take a tour from Paris.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 09:53 AM
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Well, of course, that begs the question of which chateaux are the "most important."

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Aug 10th, 2004, 09:59 AM
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I agree, if you only want a day trip. I don't think those excursions (eg, Parisvision) are really much more expensive than doing it on your own when you add up all the fees for train, etc.

I don't think you really have much choice of chateaux if you intend to see them in only a day trip from Paris. All bus options around there are pretty limited. Blois is a major tourist center for the Loire, you can be sure they have some bus excursion companies from there. If you want more info, why don't you write their tourist office.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 10:13 AM
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Actually that's a good idea -- I've just written the Blois tourist office.

I may opt to take a train to Tours or to Blois and then join tour groups there, depending on how I feel, instead of joining a tour in Paris.

Biking to the chateaux from Blois would have been interesting, but I just don't have the time.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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111op: You're perfectly right! My reply did beg the question, because, quite frankly, it was all so long ago that I've forgotten which chateaux we visited.

I know we went to the one that is over the water (there are two very "watery" ones; this was the one that actually crosses the water; I think one starts with A and one starts with C; this was the one that started with C -- are you beginning to see why my reply begged the question...? smiley face; I haven't figured out how to make them); I know we went to Chambord, which is huge; we stopped at Amboise but, as I recall, we did not go in.

The one that I probably liked best was the one that starts with C; I have since Googled it, and I think it's Chenonceau.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 10:26 AM
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Chenonceau crosses the Loire - beautiful gardens.

www.chenonceau.com

Azay-le-Rideau looks like it's floating on water.

http://www.castles.org/castles/Europ...e/france14.htm
indytravel is offline  
Aug 10th, 2004, 10:52 AM
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Yes, it sounds like Chenonceau. It stretches across the river Cler, or something like that. Catherine de Medici forced Diane de Poitiers out in a cat fight.

Maybe the other one is Azay-le-Rideau? That one also has a lot of good reviews -- but I don't think that I'll be able to make it.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 10:53 AM
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Thanks indy -- I started posting and got distracted.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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I have done a couple of Ligeris tours. I flew to Tours from London on one of the Ryanair one pence sales. I took one half day tour and one full day. I enjoyed it very much. They have minivans with about 9 people. The give you a nice commentary on the way to the chateau, then you are there on your own to tour as you like, then return to the van and on to the next chateau. Much better to me than being hearded along
with a group.

I have booked them again for an Octber full day tour. My friend and I are taking the train from Montparnasse this trip.
The price came out to about the same as the bus tour from Paris when you factor in the train trip, but I prefer to go on my own.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 12:35 PM
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Great. Maybe that's what I'll do. I'll see what the Blois tourist office has to say.

You're right -- it does sound nicer and that's also why I'm investigating the tour groups originating locally more.

Does this look like the sort of thing that you can book the day of? It sounds like you've booked already.

By the way, do you live in London? It sounds like it.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 12:38 PM
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By the way, the train to Blois seems a little cheaper than the train to Tours. The fastest ones to Blois take about 1.5 hours, and I guess that's 20 minutes longer than for Tours.

Anyway, I figured that if there're tours from Blois, they may be more convenient than the ones from Tours (especially since Chambord is closer to Blois than to Tours). But Chenonceau is probably closer to Tours than to Blois. Just doing more research to see what's available.
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Aug 10th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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No, I live in Atlanta and often get cheap fares to London and jump off to other places. I do love London and always spend some time there also.

I checked into Acco-Dispo but they could not guarantee that they would go that day unless there were a certain number of people. I was solo. That is why I originallly went with Ligeris. I was able to book online and print my ticket. That is what I have done this time also. This trip I wanted to do the tour on a Sunday and Ligeris had a full day one that included 5 chateaus. The Paris bus tour only included 3 chateaus. My friend has never been and wanted to see a lot in one day. I did not feel rushed on the previous tours at all. I am looking forward to going again. I have a little blue "viewfinder" with wonderful photos of Cheonceau that I have on my desk. I love to pick it up and look in it and remember my trip.
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