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Loire Valley & Brittany - recommendations?

Loire Valley & Brittany - recommendations?

May 21st, 2013, 06:03 AM
  #1  
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Loire Valley & Brittany - recommendations?

Hey all --

Have 5 days to spend in Loire Valley and Brittany (driving to/from Paris) in mid-June. Recommendations of specific towns to visit, places to stay, things to do, etc... Will be three of us - 60 year old mom (she's very active), 30 year old me, and 27 year old sister. We're not museum people, but prefer perusing markets, eating, bike riding, boating, the sea, etc.

Thanks much!!!!
CieloJ is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 08:32 AM
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So - you have 2 1/4 days in each location and want recommendations on boating, bike riding, markets, and the sea. I'll assume that you want to visit a few Chateaux & gardens while in the Loire (there are Chateaux in Brittany also). If the 5 days are from when you leave Paris and then return - you really only have about 1 3/4 days in each location (you have 10 hours if driving going from Paris to Dinan to Blois to Paris).

My first recommendation - forget either the Loire or Brittany. You really don't have time to visit both areas if you want to do the time consuming things you mentioned.

Personally, I prefer Brittany (and your "wants" seem to suggest that). Find a place near Dinan and spend your entire time there.

Do you have my Normandy & Brittany itinerary??? I've sent various itineraries to over 5,000 people on Fodors (really !!). If you would like it, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 08:58 AM
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I echo Stu's thoughts. Five days is rushing to try to see both areas. I agree Brittany is more interesting and Dinan and its environs is a good place to explore. You're near Saint-Malo, Dinard, Mont Saint-Michel, some beautiful coastline and within striking distance of the Pink Granite Coast and its eastern counterpart the Côte du Goëlo (running south from Paimpol). I wrote a photo report about exploring that area that might give you some ideas if you want a look: http://tinyurl.com/82azcyh
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 09:28 AM
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FMT, thanks for posting your trip report including so much detail. I'm ready to hop on a plane and go!!!
Blaise22 is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 12:47 PM
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Blaise22 save me a seat on the plane you hop on and FrenchMystique I owe you at least one glass of wine (probably more) for putting together your exceptional photo report.. Have never been to Brittany but did the same sort of wandering in Limosin, based in Crocq..A wonderful way to see an area!! Wander, Wander, Wander leads to Wonder and Awe!! Thanks so much. CeiloJ et al, you will have a great experience if you take the suggestions made to heart. Stu Dudley, as always, a valuable source of information!!
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May 21st, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Well thank you very kindly Blaise22 and amer_can. I appreciate the compliments and the I'm happy to have provided a bit of inspiration to the both of you. I'm always available if you want to buy me a drink or seven.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 02:13 PM
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By the way, I am guessing the OP wanted to see châteaux (maybe exterior only since they don't like museums?) considering they posted their desire to visit the Loire Valley. I know Brittany has some great châteaux as well. For those of you that have been, what have been your favorites to visit?
Blaise22 is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 02:37 PM
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Eastern Brittany - Fougeres, Vitre,

Central Brittany - Josselin,

Farther west - Kerouzere, Kerjean, Roche-Jagu

Stu Dudley
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May 21st, 2013, 02:45 PM
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And there's this interactive map showing the location of the various châteaux in Brittany:

http://www.notrebellefrance.com/chateauxbretagne
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 02:51 PM
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ttt
irishface is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 03:18 PM
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the Loire has its charms as much or more than Brittany IME for the average traveler -= foe one thing it is much closer to Paris by car anyway and its chateaus are world-famous - Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord are amongst the finest nicest castles in Europe.

A city like Amboise makes a perfect base to visit all those plus Chinon, one of the nicest towns in France.

You can take nice canoe/kayak rides on the languid Loire but not in the Atlantic Ocean - Loire also has wineries - like Vouvray's world-famous ornate wine caves/houses and troglydte houses hewn in cliffs - some of these are now musjhroom farms you can visit.

Brittany is great - the Loire is great and I can see spending a few days in each place - hefck I once bicycled from the heart of Brittany to Amboise in one day - they ain't that far apart.

Biking - I have biked extensively in both places - few flat places if I recall in Brittany but many in the fairly flat Loire - many Chambres d'Hotes - bed-and-breakfasts and chateau-hotels have bikes for customers to use, etc.

The Loire ain't as bad as many above seem to think!
PalenQ is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 03:58 PM
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Chinon doesn't make my "top 100" list (stayed there twice for 8 nights). But Rennes, Vannes, Quimper, St Malo, Dinan, Tregier, and about 5 other small villages (Pt Aven, Concarneau, Locronon, etc) make the "list".

I'm pretty sure you can canoe/kayak on the Rance.

Much more diversity to Brittany, IMO.

Stu Dudley
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May 21st, 2013, 04:19 PM
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Nobody said the Loire was bad. Two of us said we find Brittany more interesting. There are a world of other posters out there who may feel differently but we have only heard from one of them so far. Three opinions total is not much to draw conclusions from.

It's entirely possible to kayak in the Atlantic. I saw them renting kayaks on the beach in Carnac when I was there and I'm sure that's not the only place. Plenty of flat areas to bike in Brittany but certainly more flat terrain in the Loire. Many châteaux in both regions but the world famous ones are in the Loire. Even if you took the Atlantic coast away from Brittany it still has more natural scenic beauty than the Loire, which as you have noted is fairly flat in many places.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 06:05 PM
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Stu/FMT, thanks again. FMT, I love that website you posted that maps so many châteaux. Brittany is definitely a strong contender for where I will take my next trip.
Blaise22 is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 09:49 AM
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Day 1 - drive via Chartres and see its famous cathedral en route to Amboise.

Base in Amboise - day trip to Chenonceau - arguable the most beautiful of Loire castles and definitely the most popular. Look around Amboise - check out the Clos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci lived out his declining days as King Francois 1 of France, who resided in Amboises impressive fortress like chateau on the Loire itself - he brought him here to symbolize the arrival of the Raniassance in France manuy say - anyway in the old house Leonardo lived in is not a museum to him with many artifacts and re-created inventions hanging from the raftrers.

At night take in the fantastic Sound and Light show at the caslte - a bombvastic spectacle where zillions of towns people dress in centuries-old garb and re-enact famous scences - all to music - there is an English 'seance' or version given many nights or your get headphones to translate - andway jolly good fun.

Day 3 - day trip Azay-le-Rideau - another sublimely gorgeous castle in a nice old small town that would make a good lunch stop - then swing back to Amboise via Vouvray - hitting some wine houses - perhaps buying some right from the vinter for later that night in your cozy Chateau de Prey room (yes a nice old castle right in Amboise you can stay in!)

Day 4 - Drive east to Chambored - the largest and in many ways most impressive of all Loirew castles or go to nice cities like Chinon (ruined castle there is a Joan of Arc museum - nidce town on a river with a uniform cream-hued look to it due to fact many buildings are all made of limestone from cliffs along the Loire - a uniform color in many Loire towns and villages. Or you may want to ride an old steam train to Richelieu, through a forest - Richelieu is one of the most unique places in France or on day 4 drive to Loches and visit it very different castle - a regular fort not pleasure dome - famous for the Hanging Cages of some King Louis where enemies of the king were literally hung out to dry in cages so short they could not stand up in - a replica of the dread Hanging Cages is still in the donjons there. Loches is an ancient city worth a look around.

5- Head to the Chanteloup Pagoda just a few miles out of Amboise - all that remains of a once lavish chateau that was demolished in the early 1800s when the proprietor could not pay his taxes - all that is left is the Chinese Pagoda, reflecting a fascination with Chinese things in the 1700s when the original castle was built - you can climb it and drive to Blois - a neat old regional town with of course its own cstle or in the afternoon rent canoes or kayaks to do a float around the Loire, which is most beautiful right at Amboise - a wide river with just rivulets running thru a largely sandy river bed - water being lost of lots of irrigation..

http://www.pointurier.org/travel/eur...ex.html#05.jpg

So there is a whole lot of varied things to see and do within a very few miles of Amboise.
PalenQ is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 10:46 AM
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PQ, have you been to Brittany?
Mimar is offline  
May 24th, 2013, 05:43 AM
  #17  
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merci merci merci!!!! brittany it will be. will save loire for next time with friends as my mom and sister aren't big wine-o's.
CieloJ is offline  
May 24th, 2013, 08:20 AM
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Yes I have been all over Brittqany - by bike and car and it is really nice and interesting - especially Carnac and its ancient stones - and the church yards with ancient tomb stones - Rennes is one of the nicest largest towns in France and of course Mont-Sain-Michel, which has shifted back and forthbetween Brittany and Normandy but now in Brittany is the top site for most.

As for Brittany having 'much more diversity' that to me is rather subjective and I would dispute that strongly - both have many varied things to do - the Loire IMO even more perhaps as it has far more than its famous chateaus - Tours itself is a fascinating city on par with Rennes and Angers too.

But you can't really compare the two in that way and say one is better than the other IMO.

For several years I lived off and on in the Loire Valley so it does give me a prejudice for its I guess and again Brittany is one of the most unique places in France - culture wise being a Celtic enclave, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
May 24th, 2013, 08:30 AM
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Tours was bombed heavily during WWII. There is a very small "old" section. The buildings that were "restored" after the bombing around the "old" section were probably redone too quickly and they really didn't do a good job, IMO. It is perhaps my least favorite large city in France - that I've visited - which is most of them.

Stu Dudley
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Jun 19th, 2013, 01:58 PM
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to revive this thread for my own uses, we are considering a short break in Brittany on the back of some very good offers from Brittany Ferries - £138 for the car and 2 passengers plus £20 for an overnight cabin for any trip taken from a thursday night to a sunday before 22nd July.

we will arrive in Roscoff at 8am on Friday morning, [we're thinking about going in 3 weeks time] and leave by the 16.40 ferry on sunday afternoon, so we are more or less limited to Brittany itself.

we've seen most of the north and west coasts, driven through the middle quite a lot, but not seen much of the south east of Quimper. so we're thinking about 2 nights in/around Carnac, specifically Locmariaquer, which looks like a nice quiet place to base ourselves but close enough to bigger places like Vannes and Carnac. it's a drive of about 2 1/2 hours from Roscoff so quite feasible in the time we've got.

ideas anyone?
annhig is offline  

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