Loire Valley Castles

Feb 11th, 2004, 03:25 AM
  #1  
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Loire Valley Castles

Hello all. I have a day and night open during my trip to Paris and am trying to figure out whether to stay in the city or take a quick trip. I had considered London but now am leaning away from that, looking at the Loire Valley. I found this website and am falling in love with the scenery and castles:
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/guillonniere...ey-castles.htm


1. How far from Paris both via train and via car?

2. If we were to leave our Paris hotel at 8:00 on a Friday and want to return to Paris for a hotel stay Saturday night would we have enough time to see some of the castles?

3. What larger cities are around the Loire that we could use as home base?

4. Is a car required/strongly suggested?

5. Which castles or other attractions would you ID as 'must sees.'

6. How long per castle would you give it?

7. Please feel free to add any additional commentary!

Thanks folks.
mdtravel is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 03:59 AM
  #2  
 
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We spent 5 days in the Loire a couple of years ago and by car we were able to see 2 or 3 chateaux per day - depending on their size and what else there is to see/do - some towns have little but others - like Amboise - have much else to see/do. In a 1 night turnaround from Paris you could probably do 3 chateaux. If you can I recommend staying in one of the smaller local chateaux now being used as a B&B (not the same ones you tour). It's a great experience, makes parking easy and lets you get on the road immediately vs staying in a hotel in one of the larger towns. We stayed in a 15th century castle near Chinon - but that is probably too far east for a one night night stay.

This is a great idea - definitely go for it.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 05:01 AM
  #3  
BDM
 
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Hi MDTraveler,

I think you would be fine for the day and a half trip. We stayed in Amboise for two nights last May. We drove straight from the airport to the Cathedral at Chartre, spend a few hours there, had lunch and then went to Amboise. I would say a direct drive from downtown Paris might be 2 hours +/- Getting out of the city will be the biggets hurdle and then it's easy. We drove about 30 minutes the next morning to arrive at Chenencoux. After that the other chateaux are withing 10-15 minutes of eachother.

I would highly recommend either a car or a tour. THe distance between chateaus is not conducive to mass transit.

We went to the "big three" - Chenonceau, Chambord and Cheverney as well as Amboise (right around the corner from our hotel) Figure a few hours each and maybe 10-15 minutes drive between sites. If you get the Michelin map for Loire Valley you will not have any problems driving.

We stayed in a small inexpensive hote, Le Blason, a few blocks from the Amboise castle. IT wasn't fancy but adequate. you can get more info at www.leblason.fr We saved our hotel money for a really nice place in the Rhone valley. Le Blason is mentioned in a few of the travel guides. It also has great public parking right in front of the hotel which is a major plus in Europe.

Amboise had lots of reasonable restaurants within walking distance of the town center. If it hadn't drizzled the two days we were there it would have been even better.

You'll love the Loire region. Enjoy the local wine. Whites are probably a bit better than reds although the lighter style reds are quite enjoyable.

Have fun. Via con dios.

Brian
BDM is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 05:08 AM
  #4  
ira
 
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Hi

How many nights in Paris? If 6 or more, I second chicgal.

If less, I would stay in the city.
ira is online now  
Feb 11th, 2004, 08:29 AM
  #5  
 
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Not all the Loire Valley châteaux are really castles; some are just very, very large houses. These weren't built for defensive purposes; some were actually huge hunting lodges for the kings. Before you go, get the green Michelin guide for the Loire Valley and so a bit of reading so you know what to expect--and which châteaux require guided tours. If you arrive at one of those when only a French-language tour is available, it can be a very long 2 hours. And some of them lock the doors so you can't just leave! The Michelin lays out itineraries so you can make the most of your time.

A château that not too many people visit is the one sometimes said to be the model for Sleeping Beauty's Castle: the Château d'Ussé. Our favorites are Saumur, Azay-le-Rideau (moated), Chenoceau, Angers, and Villandry, the latter for its terraced gardens.
Underhill is online now  
Feb 11th, 2004, 04:59 PM
  #6  
 
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We are considering the same trip to the Loire Valley. We have a total of 7 nights and 6 full days. We are definately planning a day trip to Versailles. I would love to spend one night in the Loire Valley. I was considering Amboise- it seems like there is alot to do there. No one in our group wants to drive. Someone on this board advised not traveling right after we land in Paris after such a long flight and I can see their point. We want to be in Paris the night before we return home. Would a day tour be as nice as an overnight trip? I thought it would be nice to stay in a bed and breakfast or castle and try out the local cusine. It just seems that you can experience an area better by staying there overnight. Will this be more trouble than its worth? We don't speak French, so this could also be a problem.
amberkat is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 05:08 PM
  #7  
 
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This is a very heavily touristed area - so speaking English only should not be a problem. If you want to go only for one day consider one of the bus tours - but a car is really needed if you want to overnight and do a couple of chateaux.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 08:46 PM
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Highly recommend either a tour or a car.

Our favorites are Châteaux Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenoceau, Amboise and Château d'Ussé in Rigny. If I only had one day, I would do Azay-le-Rideau and Chenonceau because Villandry (my favorite) is a bit out of the way. Azay and Chenonceau are fairly close to each other. They do an evening illumination at Azay so it might be fun to spend the night in town and walk over for the illumination.

Enjoy your trip.
SalB is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 09:43 PM
  #9  
 
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I adore the Loire Valley and take all my guests from the US there. The easiest, but not the least expensive would be to take the TGV train from Paris to Tours, rent a car and see 3 castles. There is no need to do the guided tours as they are dead boring, if you have a michelin guide you can give yourself the tour.

The must sees on my list are:
Chambord: staircase though i think it may be under repair
Chennenceaux: see the rooms on your own
VILLANDRY: just tour the gardens
Azay le rideau, just look from the outside (used as a model by walt disney)

optional: Blois and Amboise drive by the outside and if you have time the fortress in Anjou is impressive due to the black and yellow stone
moxie is offline  
Feb 12th, 2004, 07:42 PM
  #10  
 
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This past December we took a train to Tours (very early) and met Acco-Dispo Tours in front of the tourist office. They had a large van, but there were only the two of us and the driver. He gave us a commentary as we were driving, but did not go in with us to the chateaus giving us a time to meet back in the parking lot. At that time of the year, there were no crowds at all. In fact, kind of empty. At 7pm he saw to it we got back to the train station. Very easy. . .accomplished a lot. Very reasonable. We "discovered" them on this board, along with their web site. Through emails they even helped us navigate the train ticket web site to make sure we purchased the right train tickets for the right times so as not miss them! During busy times they really need to be purchased ahead of time. I think we visited 4 chateaus that day! I don't think we could have found them all on our own with a rental car and also get back to the train station on time. . .
jeri is offline  

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