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Loire Valley Day Trips Recommendations Please

Loire Valley Day Trips Recommendations Please

Aug 1st, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Loire Valley Day Trips Recommendations Please

My mother and I will be taking our second trip to Paris in April. Since we will be there for ten days this time we have decided we would like to take a day trip to the Loire Valley. I have read a lot of posts that suggest taking the train to Tours and then either renting a car or taking a mini-bus tour to see the chateaus. I am not sure we would feel comfortable renting a car. Can anyone tell me of their experiences doing this day trip? Or perhaps a tour company you had a good experience with? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Aug 1st, 2007, 09:39 AM
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Any one?
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Aug 1st, 2007, 09:47 AM
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www.ACCO-DISPO.com is one group i'm familiar with and has done mini-bus tours for years. Meets you at Tours train station i believe (just an hour or so from Paris via bullet train)

1/2 day and full day tours to some of the most famous of the castles. Seems very easy - yet compare to tours from Paris as you do have to pay the train fare Paris-Tours return with the mini-bus option.

www.voyages-sncf.com for some great advance purchase online fares, however for 25-35 euros each way, even in first class i guess.
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Aug 1st, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Thank you PalenQ. I will check these out.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 04:09 AM
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PalenQ...Unfortunately, your link to the tours does not work.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 04:14 AM
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I've got it now. www.accodispo-tours.com for anyone else who might be interested.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 04:40 AM
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If you are taking the train into Tours (there are two stops, can't think of the name of the one just outside the city limits but take the one all the way into the city center)you will find a round booth in the center of the station near the tracks. They sell reasonably priced minibus tours with morning and afternoon departures with about two chateaus per trip or 3/4 for a full day. Full day excursions start at about 8-9 AM so you will have to take the earliest TGV to get there. Also try contacting the Tours Tourist Information Bureau for brochures and times. If you are going for 10 days, you may want to take the train from CDG to Tours and spend a night or two there and then go to Paris.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 04:44 AM
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parisnow...Thank you for the great suggestions. We have actually been thinking of staying overnight. The hardest part is deciding how many chateaux to see and which ones would be best. Now that I have figured out where Tours is and how to get there I am going to work on what is there. I am sure I will be back with more questions one day.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 06:04 AM
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You can also look at Parisvision and Cityrama tha offer tours from paris.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 06:06 AM
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I have rented a car from Paris and driven to Loire Valley as part of a 10 day trip of the area. You might consider picking up a car at CDG and then driving there for couple of cays, then returning car to CDG and then doing Paris part.
I rented from Hertz on rue Rivoli, which added some excitement to my drive.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 06:10 AM
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ste-pierre-des-corps is the main train station for the Tours area - it's 2 miles south of the city centre where the Tours proper train station is.

Many Paris-Bordeaux, etc. trains only stop at St-Pierre-des-Corps from where shuttel trains ('navettes') trundle into the old Tours dead-end station.

Several Paris Montparnasse TGV trains a day actually go into and terminate at the Tours station but many more only serve SPdCorps - no problem and navette trains meet each one to take you into Tours.

When buying a train ticket in Paris you may inquire about a train ticket plus minibus tour from the Tours station - there used to be such a plan but not sure currently.

Dejais - thanks for the correct site - i have never taken their tours but several years ago when i was writing an article on the Loire Castles i interviewed the local couple who ran the tours and they seemed very nice and all. So i don't have first-hand knowledge and there are others as well, such as the ones parisnow talks about in the Tours station.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:40 AM
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Okay everyone...you have been very helpful. I spoke to my mother this morning and we both think that perhaps we may be adventurous and take the train to Tours then rent a car and go see the castles on our own. We may stay overnight and allow two days for this. We are just a little nervous about driving there on our own. Other Fodorites have said they did this and it was easy. Of course, being our first time, we are leery. I am going to do more research and will definitely post back on our decision.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:44 AM
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It need not be a problem - take a train to suburban St-Pierre-des-corps station as it is kind of out of town and on the way to great castles like Chenonceaux.

In-town Tours station means you'd have to negotiate urban driving and Tours does have, from personal experience, often horrendous traffic snarls as many French towns seem to have.

rent car at SPdCorps station and several there.

Get a 1:200000 Michelin map of the Loire and stick either to white or yellow-colored roads - the "D" or departmental roads that are often well paved and have little traffic.

Avoid the main drags along the Loire - truck-filled thoroughfares.

Amboise is a perfect base - own chateau and an easy drive to Chenonceaux just a few miles away.

From SPdCorps to Amboise you could pass thru Vouvray and hit some of the very prestigious wine houses there.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:48 AM
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PalenQ...I am just loving you right now and my confidence is building. Thank you tremendously for your help!
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 08:03 AM
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I totally agree with Pal...take the train to either Blois or Tours and rent a car there. You could use a wholesaler company like AutoEurope to get a cheap rate but if you want to make it really easy and convenient you can also do it through Avis which has offices right in the train stations of both towns.

Chenonceau is, as was stated, an easy drive from places like Amboise and if you feel confident enough you could certainly do Chambord and others.

I think you'll find driving in France to be a positive experience. I have found the drivers there to be a lot less impatient than some in the US and once you understand the road markings I think you'll thank yourself for considering this alternative.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 08:28 AM
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<Chenonceau is, as was stated, an easy drive from places>

weird Chenonceau means the town 0 so Dukey is right if referring to the town but the castle is Chenonceaux for some weird reason maybe some Francophobe can explain. Or maybe i have it the other way around.

I second Dukey's suggestion about possibly taking a train to Blois or Amboise - probably Blois since they may have more car rentals by the station there because it's bigger town - but AVIS seems to have the concession from sncf to be right in the station.

Non-TGV trains from Paris Austerlitz go to Blois and Amboise via Les Aubrais-Orleans - cheaper but a bit slower and many you can still just hop on, reservations not required.

Or pick up car in Amboise - do a day trip to Chenonceaux that day and next day drive to Chambord and then return car in Blois train station (usually possible if AVIS or Hertz, etc.) and train back to paris.

Chambord is certainly out in the middle of nowhere and there are great back roads going there.

Look for a sign in front of farms that say "Fromage de Chevre" (sp?) and you can stop in and see the farmer's goat cheese operation and buy some fresh cheese. Many such places in this area.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:17 AM
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An X added to the end of a word ending in "eau" pluralizes it.

Where ARE all these "French grammar experts" when you really need them?
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:54 AM
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so there are 2 Chenonceau castles in Chenonceau?
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Aug 3rd, 2007, 06:49 AM
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If driving from Amboise to Chenonceau(x) just a few miles out of Amboise is the weird Pagoda de Chanteloup - a huge 'fooly' of a pagoda that is all that is left of a once-grand chateau besides a few foundation stoes.

The chateau was pulled down when the owner owed back taxes and the stones sold off i think.

Anyway, this relic of a age that was infatuated with Chinoiserie (sp?) now sits forlorn in the mist of fields and forests in a quiet natural setting.

Well worth a brief look.
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Aug 5th, 2007, 07:31 AM
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Just how old are you and your mother?
If you are in good shape, you may think about renting a bike. Lots of info regarding biking in the Loire Valley. Did this myself but had to add a few wine stops along the way.
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