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Help with tough decision on where to go

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Jan 22nd, 2013, 10:06 AM
  #1
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Help with tough decision on where to go

Bonjour!
I am fulfilling my dream of visiting Europe in June. I am now battling with the planning stages of my portion of time being spent in France.

We have up to 7 days in France before making our way over to Scotland and London.

So far we have three days planned for Paris and looking to venture off into the countryside a little bit before going over to Scotland. I am looking for the BEST place to gain this experience:

Stay on or walking distance to a vineyard. Be able to bike to a near by quaint, country esque village with some possibilities of restaurants and pubs and shopping, and one night cook an authentic French dinner with the inn keepers. So, kinda like Julia Roberts in Eat,Pray,Love but in France and not Italy.

Hoping to find a place within reasonable train distance so we dont spend a lot of time traveling to and from places. So far have narrowed it down in research to: Loire Valley- in specific Bourgueil or Chinon, Champagne, Beune Burgundy region or Colmar in Alsace.

ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! My head is bursting with so much research on where to go.

Sincerely,
Dreaming of Europe!!
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 10:29 AM
  #2
 
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http://gofrance.about.com/od/lodging...ire-Valley.htm

chambres d'Hotes may interest you - good ole Bed-andBreakfast and perhaps an evening meal as well in a host's house - many in all the areas you are going to

Chinon vs Bourgueil - Chinon IME of traveling the Loire by bike and car for years - Chinon to me is the nicest city in this part of the Loire - Bourgueil has more vineyards - the most in all the Loire but Chinon is IMO a much more pleasant town.
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 10:39 AM
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There are plenty of places where you can stay and have dinner cooked for you (these are called chambres d'hôtes and are essentially B&Bs). We have done this many times and have only ever had positive experiences. Depending on the location you choose you will be able to tick several of these boxes (vineyard, village, restaurants, some shops - pubs don't really exist in France).

However, I think you're unlikely to find places that will actually let you in the kitchen - firstly for health and safety reasons and secondly for personal ones. You are only likely to build up the kind of rapport with someone where they will let you cook with them in their personal kitchen when you have known/stayed with them for a long time, which doesn't sound like something that's on your agenda given the time scale of your trip.

There are plenty of cookery courses in France intended for tourists, however, if you want something resembling an authentic French cookery experience (for example, there are courses where they will take you to a market in the morning and then you get to cook what you have bought for lunch). These are especially prevalent in Paris but probably also exist in other places. I have never done one of these courses, though, so you will probably want to wait until one of those people comes along.

How do you plan on getting to these small villages? Will you be hiring a car, getting a taxi from the station to your chambre d'hôte and then relying on bikes...?

Hope this helps a bit
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 11:17 AM
  #4
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Thank you so much!

That was my next question!

Is it possible to stay one night in Bourgueil and either bike or take a train to Chinon for one night?

When leaving Paris, taking a train what would be our route of transportation?
We do not plan on getting a car, since we are doing that for Ireland, we don't want to go overboard on expenses for traveling.

I have bought guide books, and read articles and forums after forums and it just seems so hard to pin point where we should spend our time!
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 11:30 AM
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From one of my trip reports:

"We stayed at our most expensive B&B (60 euro) and most luxurious just on the other side of the river from Angers (Mme. Françoise Terrière, 49610 Murs-Erigné, 02 41 57 70 13). It was a 19th century small manor house set in its own parc. The kitchen had the coloration of Monet's kitchen and was also the dining area. We had a suite above it with a large bathroom, but ... it was the only time that the shower was a hand-held shower in the tub with no wall hooks and no curtains. We took the table d'hôte, eating outside in the garden."

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57624575935008

It is located across the river from Angers, and if the weather is bad, one gets to eat in the kitchen. But it is not close to a vineyard.
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 11:52 AM
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There is a disconnect between using trains as your primary means of transportation and wanting to stay "on or walking distance to a vineyard," as trains don't typically stop at or near vineyards (OK, you could possibly find a train station out in rural France somewhere with bike rentals and get yourself to a vineyard, but I'm hard-pressed to think of one).

And the idea of being able to cook with innkeepers is odd. I can think of plenty of places where innkeepers cook for their guests, but not WITH them. I've given culinary tours where I took people to market, then cooked and ate with them at my house, but they were guests in my house. I'm sure there are more than a handful of such culinary tours around, but they're generally for a week or 10 days, not just a single experience. You might find something like that by reading the classifieds of local newspapers, if you can read French, or by contacting the tourist offices in towns/villages you want to stay in.

Your route out of Paris would depend on your destination. Paris has a handful of train stations, and the one you leave from is determined by where you're going. There are train stations in Chinon and Saumur, but not Bourgeuil.
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Jan 22nd, 2013, 12:15 PM
  #7
ira
 
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Hi DE,

>We have up to 7 days in France...
So far we have three days planned for Paris ...

I fear that you have an overly romantic view of the countryside.

If this is your first visit to Paris, I suggest that you stay there.

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Jan 23rd, 2013, 02:58 PM
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Does anyone have an opinion on Vendome vs Chinon?

Thank you!!
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 04:24 PM
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As I posted on your thread asking this question.

Been to both several times - Chinon to me is much nicer - one of if not the nicest town IMO in the stretch of the Loire.

Vendome is an extremely historic city and has a nice old-world flare and a big crumbling palace but is just another city otherwise.

Chinon lovingly sits on a river and there are wine houses right in town.

Vendome however I think is significantly closer to Paris perhaps?
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 04:51 PM
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No, Vendome is farther away, at least the Vendome I'm thinking of. But at any rate, Chinon is a much nicer place.
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