Loire Valley, Bordeaux plus?

Old Apr 18th, 2021, 02:41 PM
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Loire Valley, Bordeaux plus?

Just at the start of planning a trip for Spring /22. Been to France but not the Loire or Bordeaux areas. Thinking about 2 and 1/2 or 3 weeks total.We like wine but this is not just a winery trip. We are two 65 year olds who also enjoy biking and kayaking. So here’s my question. we would like to book an open jaw ticket, and seek advice about perhaps flying into the Netherlands and home from France and spending maybe 3 or 4 days in Amsterdam area and 3 days in Belgium. Then the rest of the time in France. Alternatively we could begin in France and combine northern Spain with our France visit and fly home from Madrid. Never been to the Netherlands, Belgium or Spain. And these visits obviously would just give us a taste of each or any of those countries. Would be so grateful for advice. I know they are all interesting in their own right. I am looking for coaching on timing and if anyone has advice about what areas might be nice to just settle into for a few days. Like maybe we should just hang out in the Loire somewhere for a week??? And do day trips? We will be likely renting a car at some point but combine with train travel as well. Sorry to be vague / have been reading my Fodors and many other guidebooks. At this point I would really love to hear from anyone with personal experience. Thank you thank you thank you.
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Old Apr 18th, 2021, 04:34 PM
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Wine can be found all over France. Instead of the Bordeaux area, I would recommend the Dordogne. A little hilly for biking, but the Dordogne and the Vézère and the Dronne between Brantôme and Bourdeilles offer canoeing possibilities.

Lascaux IV near Montignac has been strongly recommended to me even though I am familiar with the Lascaux II reproduction.




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Old Apr 18th, 2021, 05:11 PM
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I have been to the Loire valley many times- I have a friend with a house there. There are other things to do besides visit chateaux, which start to run together after awhile. Check out the Puy du Fou- the light show at night sells out and you need to book early, but the daytime exhibits are fabulous! There are medievel towns, a jousting show, and a whole Roman Colosseum with a chariot race. The city of Angers is also worth checking out- and if you take the train from Paris, that's where you'll get out. It has a castle with a moat.
Now, about the timing- when you say "spring", what do you mean? Much of France, Amsterdam and Belgium are going to be chilly and rainy in the spring. Spain, on the other hand, will be nicely warm in many places, including Madrid. I'd start there and work my way north. I've been in Paris in June when I had to wear 3 layers, scarf and gloves.
The Loire Valley is very drivable (as long as you know how to read the signs at the round-a-bouts. "Autres Directions" means take that exit if you don't see the name of your destination on any of the other signposts. GPS has gotten much better in France, and should help you.) I would not attempt to drive in any cities in Europe, and finding a parking space can take up half your time.
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Old Apr 18th, 2021, 05:34 PM
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You can bike from Paris to Mont Saint Michel, lovely countryside most of the way.
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Old Apr 19th, 2021, 12:27 AM
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What a lovely open question I have cycled over much of this land when not drinking the wine. Spring is big planning date and I certainly think about the climate in terms of the order in which you do things. The Loire and some of the other rivers like the Loir (not a spelling mistake) or the Quincy have different types of cycling and kayaking, the Loire being the widest it gets a lot of gravel dried out areas while the others are smaller and more interesting.

In terms of cycling there are bike paths down the Loire while the Loir uses the miles of back roads that make cycling so interesting in France. You might find my old website mybikeguide.co.uk useful for any planning but you will also find each department of France has great websites on cycling and then there are the greenways Voie Verte which offer alternatives.

Holland and Belgium to the north are great flat countries with a bunch of land locked medieval cities that went a bit bust in the 17c so they stayed as they were so the likes of Bruges are almost frozen in time with great cycling. Belgium to the south is wooded and very very hilly.

What we would do depends on your bikes, assuming you are renting locally then in Holland rental everywhere is easy to organise so take a train somewhere and hire. On the Loire I might use the train that follows the river and do day trips or use a taxi to move your luggage and do a long length moving every day or so. Finally there are companies like Headwater who will manage the whole thing for you.
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Old Apr 20th, 2021, 01:41 AM
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It sure about your thoughts in relation to the coast but La Rochelle and Il de Ré are lovely and won’t be too busy in Spring.
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Old Apr 28th, 2021, 01:27 PM
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Yes. And on your advice will visit. Looks lovely! Thank you!
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Old Apr 28th, 2021, 06:05 PM
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I remember narrow roads in the Loire, wouldn't feel comfortable riding there. In general these country roads won't have dedicated bike lanes.

That means annoyed drivers if they get stuck behind bicyclists sharing the same narrow road. I would search for guided bike tours where someone leads a group and usually stick to safe bike-friendly paths. Plenty of them in big cities, not sure about the countryside.

Never been to Bordeau but really want to go. Not one for winery tours though I would do one or two but Bordeaux the city looks beautiful, with waterfront palaces, which I believe a civic buildings.

But I would also look at visiting somewhere like Epernay and Reims, booking champagne house tours. They used to be free back in the day. Maybe there are tours so you can both do a lot of sampling. Also Chartres is another relatively close to Paris destination.

For the Loire, you can take TGV from Paris, maybe also CDG airport as well not too sure. Like a couple of hours. From Bordeaux it's a longer train ride I believe.

Northern Spain is great, if you're a foodie, do the tapas bar crawl in Donastia (San Sebastian). However the weather is cold and wet there. So I made sure to go in July and it still was lacking in sun.

LOVED the Basque Coast. Not just San Sebastian but you can take day trips on a car to the west to see the flysch formations along the coast (a shooting location for Game of Thrones if you're into that sort of thing) or drive across the border to Biarritz, the Grand Place.

But also like Asturias, where it's cheaper but still interesting food and maybe hit some cable cars in the Picos de Europa if you get a sunny day and are willing to drive a bit.

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Old Apr 28th, 2021, 10:14 PM
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scrb

I've just bought a house near Bordeaux. Along with Palermo, Seville and Lisbon it is one of Europe's most vibrant small cities that have retained their culture without being absolutely mobbed by world tourism.

Also the areas around Archachon bay which have creeks and small fishing operations which also open up as restaurants serving some of the best seafood in the world.
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