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Is Tours a good base from which to explore the chateaux of the Loire?

Is Tours a good base from which to explore the chateaux of the Loire?

Old Sep 9th, 2004, 05:17 PM
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Is Tours a good base from which to explore the chateaux of the Loire?

In thinking ahead to next year's trip we think to do the Loire Valley; specifically to see some of the chateaux. Tours is recommended as a good base for driving out from each day; have other Fodorites found this to be true? We'll also return to Paris and the Riviera but know our way around there. Any hotel you'd recommend in Tours..2 star is fine.
baker is offline  
Old Sep 9th, 2004, 05:24 PM
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If yuo are going to have a car I would not stay in Tours. It is a proper little city and it does take some time to get out of the center and onto the road.

I would probably stay in either a smaller town (Amboise? - charming, has a castel and some other nifty things to do) with better access or right in the countryside. We stayed in a private chateau - which was surprisingly inexpensive - but if you are looking for a real budget I'm sure there are lots of charming places in the smaller towns.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 06:11 PM
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I agree with nytraveler... Tours would not be my choice to stay while in the Loire Valley. It is a city with very little charm. There are many small towns in which to stay. We stayed in Amboise but the Manor we chose was expensive, although wonderful. As I recall, there were some less expensive hotels and B&B's there. And, Amboise was a perfect base to visit most of the chateaux.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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Tours - yuck. It has its charms and a very good language school, but basically is a traffic-congested place that would be far from ideal for a stay in the Loire Valley.

Try Amboise. It's got everything a nice town has to offer, has a château and other sites of its own, and has a number of great hotels in all price ranges. If you're looking for a 2-star, I think the Lion d'Or fits that category (might be a 3-star now, fon't know) and is a very nice accommodation.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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I agreee with all of the above posters. Choose Amboise beore Tours. Even Blois is nice ..our favorite is Onzain..right between Amboise and Blois and not too far from Tours.

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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 01:54 AM
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Agree - Amboise, Blois or Onzain. We stayed a night in Chinon also - a good base for the more southwestern chateaux like Chinon itself, Azay-le-Rideau, Usse, and Saumur. I've heard Loches or Montresor might also be OK, but I don't know.
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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I'll be in Amboise in November. Can you recommend a restaurant?
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 10:17 AM
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Right in the center of town, we liked l'Epicerie. But if you have a car, you have to drive to Bléré and dine at Le Cheval Blanc - wonderful restaurant!
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 01:32 PM
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I agree that Amboise is a great town for staying in. But don't overlook Chinon. It's very conveniently located for exploring the area (especially Azay-le-Rideau, Chateau d'Ussay, Fontvraud Abbey, Saumur, Angers, etc.). And the town itself has a certain medieval charm that I find appealing.

Here's a view of Chinon from across the river:
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 02:30 PM
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I agree that Tours should be avoided as a base. As for accomodations, I would try a B&B. We used Gites de France with great success and found that their equivalent of 2 star accomodations were superior to two star hotels and cheaper. 2 years ago the range was from 35 to 50 euros a night with breakfast for two. You can reserve via their web site with no deposit required. Payment is usually in cash.
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 04:24 PM
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I would not use Tours as a base since you'll be driving.

However Tours makes a very nice base if you want to see chateau by public transportation. Rail hub (Tours proper not St Pierre-des-Corps in the ugly suburbs,) mini-van tours originating from the tourist office, a beautiful cathedral, a nice fine arts museum, the gemmail museum is fascinating, the old town has beautiful half-timbered homes.

Fabulous photo mr_go. When I was there in 2001 they were having the biggest floods in 30 years. Where you took that shot was under brown, muddy water. I had to take mine from the bridge seen in your photo.

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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 04:42 PM
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I agree with all the above. I stayed in Tours for my first 2 nights in the Loire before I picked up my car, and I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful cathedral and other sites, and thought the town itself was quite interesting. And the tourist office is convenient for picking up chateau minivan tours.

But after picking up my car I based in Amboise for the eastern chateaux, then Chinon for the west. I loved both. And I also stayed in Saumur for 2 nights. I stayed in the Loire for about 10 days, so had plenty of time, however. Amboise was lovely, and very "tourist friendly". Chinon was fascinating, and very old. You will love the Loire Valley.
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 05:26 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your suggestions; Amboise looks like a better place or perhaps Chinon. I'll do some more reading about both. I presume we'd take the train from Paris to Tours and pick up a car there; usually there are car rentals right by the train station.
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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Definitely car rentals at St Peirre-des-Corps.

Watch your costs. It might be cheaper to rent in Paris and drive to the Loire. It really isn't that far.

I'll also state that I liked Saumur, Langeas (sp?), Angers, Chinon, etc. more due to the fact that the further west I went the fewer tourists there were.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 07:52 AM
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We went through the Loire Valley and Berry for two weeks in June, staying in Angers, Amboise, and Bourges. Of the three, Amboise was by far our least favorite. It just left us cold. We wished we had stayed either in a smaller town (Cour Cheverny perhaps) or just somewhere else. Also, sitting outdoors at the cafes was annoying as we were constantly attacked by mosquitoes.
If you want a smaller town, then Chinon strikes us as nicer than Amboise and it's true the western Loire is definitely less crowded even though it's full of wonderful places to visit. However, Chinon/Angers/Saumur are a bit of a haul from Chenonceau and Chambord.
Agree with everyone else that Tours is probably not the best place to make your base.
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