Loire base recommendations please

Dec 7th, 2018, 05:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Loire base recommendations please

We will be spending 8 days May 9-17 in the Loire Valley. We arrive at CDG in the AM on the 8th and want to take the train to what will be our base in Loire and get the rental car there. We fly out of CDG on the 18th. So my basic questions are:
1) Should we base ourselves in one place for the entire stay or maybe two places?
2) Where would you recommend we base ourselves?
We drove ourselves around in Tuscany and Provence and did fine. We based ourselves there in small towns as I did not want to navigate in and out of a larger town. In Tuscany we were in Greve and in Provence in Lourmarin.
Thank you for your help!
Joe in Louisville
gocardsjoeh is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 06:12 AM
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Driving is a great way to see the area. There's a lot more to the Loire Valley than chateaus. There are a few of the Most Beautiful Villages of France in this area. We enjoy a drive along the Indre river looking at the old mills. All the bridges are full of flower boxes. It's fun to come around bend in the road and see a chateau in front of you.

We've stayed near Azay le Rideau, Blere, and Loches, always in B&Bs. Of these three, we like the Loches area best. The Bihourderie is a very nice B&B north of Loches with English-speaking owners and always enough guests to provide good conversation at the breakfast table.

The village of roses, Chedigny, is very close to this B&B and is not to be missed in May. The roses and other flowers are fabulous. Chedigny is the only village in France that qualifies as a Jardin Remarquable. Loches is an attractive town, from the public garden down along the river to the church, chateau, and donjon at the top. It also has a busy market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

If you're in the area for chateau visiting, Loches might be too out of the way for you, but I think after you've coped with crowds for a while, you'll appreciate a nice break in a quiet place. In my opinion 8 days is long enough to include plenty of chateaus, scenic villages, markets, good restaurants, and walks. You're at an early stage of planning. This is where you make a long long list of everything you want to see and do. Triage comes later!
Coquelicot is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 06:29 AM
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Dear Coquelicot,
Thank you very much. So if we stayed in Loches for the entire stay, driving east for one hour or west for one hour would put us in reach of most of the Loire sights? Or would the drive be longer? From CDG, where would we take the train and pick up the car...Tours? Thanks again.
gocardsjoeh is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jul 2018
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We did the Loire several times and never with one base only.
Loches, Amboise, Saumur, and ? and ? Vouvray I think... We didn't want to be backtracking and one base also means you can only dine at one place, and you'll exhaust the possibilities if you are in a small town or even village. Honestly there are a lot of small nice villages/towns. So we were on the move... I'd recommend looking at https://www.gites-de-france.com/ for stays if you don't like hotels. Keep the site in French, if not it will only show sites which have bothered translating into English and will remove the French only ads.

Ps : is Chateau an english word ? If you use it as a french word, please write Chateaux for plural. Chateaus is ugly as hell in French. If you have decided to steal the word in English, then feel free to use an ugly plural, we do the same with 'pizzas' for example.
thibaut is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 07:06 AM
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We spent a week there a few years ago, based in Tours, and with a car. We thought it was a good choice for a base. For more, see the report at A week in the Loire Valley
SemiMike is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 07:10 AM
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Joe, we've always rented from CDG or Orly airport but we relax a few days before driving to the Loire. Coming off a long flight from the US, we're too exhausted and it's too unsafe to make a long drive.

I believe most people wanting to rent a car nears Tours recommend taking the train from CDG right to St Pierre des Corps, one stop before Tours.

Using La Bihourderie as a base (just because I know the location), it's an hour to Blois, 1.5 hours to Saumur, 55 minutes to Usse, 25 minutes to Chenonceau, and 40 minutes to my favorite little chateau, Azay le Rideau. (La Bihourderie is at Azay sur Indre, not very close to Azay le Rideau).

Once you know which chateaus and which sites you want to visit, you can figure out the best places to stay. We don't visit many chateaus anymore. We go to that area for scenery, pretty villages, and good food so a B&B out in the country suits us, but it may not be the best for you.

I forgot to mention a hotel in that area which may be more centrally located for you. One of my dreams was to stay in a mill hotel with a good restaurant, and Moulin Fleuri near Veigne was a treat. Small rooms but fantastic meals. We stayed 3 nights with half-board. That was our first experience of a 3-hour meal. They charge a ton for breakfast, so we skipped it. I remember seeing the chef moving a wheelbarrow full of wine bottles from an outbuilding to the kitchen and wondering what our evening meal was going to be.

New owner and chef since then, so who knows?
Coquelicot is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 07:24 AM
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Thibaut, you don't want to see my writing in French! I stick to English and when I need to write something in French, even a short email takes me an hour. If I'm writing in French, I'll write ch teaux (I used the circonflexe but Fodor's usually drops it, so we'll see).

English doesn't always make sense. I use chateaus with an -s because it's one of the accepted plurals in English and I'm writing in English. -x is also accepted in English, but why use it when the whole rest of what I write is in English.

I see that the a with the circumflex was dropped. My lifelong struggle with French continues.

Last edited by Coquelicot; Dec 7th, 2018 at 07:28 AM. Reason: because my circumflex was dropped
Coquelicot is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 07:29 AM
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Chateaus (both Chateau and Chateaux are English words as far as I'm aware).

I've travelled to this area many times and you have to be a bit more specific as the river is over 1000km long and it is not always fast to get from one section to the next, certainly you will need some form of GPS to get the best out of the motorways, back roads etc. There are also all the tributaries to the Loire (which includes the Loir) many of which are of some interest.

I tend to stay somewhere between Saumur and Chinon, but I've also stayed up in Muscadet, Sancerre, Saveniere, Tours etc. Given that you are aiming for May you could look at Chinon which has a lot of hotels and good restaurants none of which will be packed in May. You could also look at staying in the Abbey of Fontevraud which is walled and not too expensive (though the restaurant is over priced and the village holds four or five places to eat in the evening).

Chinon has some difficulty with car parking, so make sure you are towards the centre but with parking provided. This year we stayed at the Ibis across the river (modern place and a 20 minute walk into town) which proved fine but we were a large group with lots of cars.

I've worked out of Tours ad I don't rate it much except for the station.

If you want advice on wine tastings follow my name to my Sept article on this site.

If you do the whole Gite thing, good idea, then make sure you are in a town or you will driving back and forward for food to supermarkets etc and honestly having a bakery on the doorstep is a must in a country with poor bread that never lasts 4 hours.
bilboburgler is online now  
Dec 7th, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Yes depends on what you want to see - vineyards or chateaux or other things like the awesome Fontrevaud Abbey (sp?).

For dreamy towns on gorgeous stretches of river Chinon and Amboise stand out IMO and are nicely based for short hops to many places.

And yes take train from CDG to St-Pierre-des-Corps and pick up car and drive few miles to many bases. Book train tickets yourselves at www.oui.sncf or www.trainline.eu - same fares many say latter sight easier to use. for lots on booking own trains - www.seat61.com - and BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.

Azay-le-Rideau is my favorite chateau - at least from the outside. Chenonceaux and Chambord are musts.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 04:04 PM
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FOR SOMETHING REALLY DIFFERENT - TRY RICHELIEU - a small town a bit or very off the beaten path and a most unique place- a planned town built in a rectangle by the famous Cardinal - good for s stop and stroll or unique less touristed place to stay the night.

And a rip report I wrote on it several years ago:

PalenQ is offline  
Dec 8th, 2018, 03:42 PM
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DH and i wanted to see both sides of the Loire several years ago. We had a car. We based 3 nights in Chinon which was absolutely a perfect small village. we loved it. then 4 nights outside of Amboise at the Chateau du Pray. Amboise is much more touristy than Chinon. When we go back we will most likely stay again in the Chinon area.
LoriNY1 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 04:30 PM
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Chinon to me if the nicest city along this stretch of the Loire - part built on a hill around the old castle (where Joan of Arc once stayed and lots about her inside) - castle that hovers high above the Cher River near where it joins the Loire - so a very stragic location for a fortified casle. The views of the Cher River are sweet.
PalenQ is offline  
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