Loire Valley - destination/route advice

Old Apr 7th, 2003, 05:14 PM
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Loire Valley - destination/route advice

I will be leaving Paris on Thursday morning and must be in Aix en Provence by Saturday night. In my travels I have the following plans and would appreciate feedback on destinations/route/timing. <BR>Thursday morning - take train from Paris to Tours (rent car in Tours). Drive to Saumur, then to Chinon, Azay le Rideau, and finally Amboise (stay overnight). <BR>Friday - drive to Chenonceau then to Chambord. And then head toward Aix en Provence to our villa perhaps with an overnight stop in Le Puy en Velay. I would like comments on the order I am doing this in as well as if I am trying to do too much in my 3 day driving trip (final destination is the villa in Provence -so ideally I need to be heading in this direction). I would be willing to cut out Tours but I don't think there is a train to Saumur from Paris(?). OR do I go straight to Amboise - rent car here, stay for two nights and make my trips from here.
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Old Apr 7th, 2003, 05:47 PM
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There are no direct trains to Sumur, but there are several routes that will get you there in about 2 hours, with one change in ST PIERRE DES CORPS or ANGERS ST LAUD. The train departs from Paris Montparnasse station, and the first leg is via TGV, whereas the 2nd is local. There are train connections from Tours as well, taking about 45 mins to Saumur. www.sncf.com Cost from Paris ~45Euro, from Tours, ~10 Euro. If you have the time, the Loire valley is pretty incredible, and you could take a couple of days w/ a car here before dropping off the car and taking the train to you final destination.
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Old Apr 7th, 2003, 06:35 PM
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You have way too many chateaux on your itinerary. I spent a month in the Loire several years ago on a home exchange. I could not manage more than two chateaux in a day. Sometimes I did only one. I never got as far west as Saumur.<BR><BR>I was centered in Tours. If I were you I would see Azay, Amboise and Chenonceau at most and then drive to Aix. The drive to Aix is very long.<BR><BR>Another alternative is to save the Loire for another time. You need time to stop and look inside the chateaux. Trying to run around to see &quot;everything&quot; in 2 days is impossible. You just end up doing &quot;drive bys&quot;.<BR><BR>You might want to consider routing yourself through Burgundy instead as it is more direct. You could stop at the Basilica in Vezelay and the ruins of the Abbaye of Cluny, both impressive sites.
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Old Apr 8th, 2003, 08:28 AM
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I was just in the Loire last weekend, and I'd recommend basing in Amboise and just head out from there. I don't know the car rental situation there, but I would imagine they have offices. We thought Amboise was the most charming of the Loire towns (although Blois was lovely too, if much bigger), and had a great chateau as well. And I agree with the other poster that too many chateaux can put you right over the edge. We loved Chenonceau, Chambord was very interesting (with an excellent audio guide), gardens at Villandry are not blooming yet, so not so interesting, and that (and Amboise) was all we could manage in two days. Each takes a good chunk of time to visit, and you can only look at some many of them before medieval burnout sets in. (Or maybe that's just me). If you base in one nice location, you can decide how many you want to do without throwing off your plans if you choose to bail out and drink Sancerre instead. (And it is a long ride to Aix - train would be more agreeable if it works for the schedule). Amboise, in addition to being very pleasant, is a perfect central location. FYI, we stayed at the Manoir des Minimes, and it was excellent (and quelle bargain, relatively speaking!). <BR><BR>Not to throw any further wrenches into the plans, but I agree with Lauren that Burgundy is an excellent alternative. The Loire Chateaux are certainly worth seeing, but ... Burgundy is tough to beat. I'm glad we went to Loire, but I'll keep going back to Burgundy. Enjoy!
 
Old Apr 8th, 2003, 08:42 AM
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You have listed some of my favorite chateaux, but I agree with previous poster, the most I can do in a day is two (and I'm a pretty hard-core, get going and go all day type traveller). Saumer could be a whole day because there is a lot of other stuff to do. Same for Chinon though we went to Usse in the same day. If I did that day over, I would only visit Chinon and skip Usse. We did Azay-le-Rideau and Villandry (our absolute favorite because of the gardens) in one day. Hope this helps.
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Old Apr 8th, 2003, 12:26 PM
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Another way of doing it is to see Blois and Chambord and then go south. You could drive from Paris and see Blois the same day. Go to Chambord the next day on your way south. Go see the Romanesque chapel in Le Puy. Lengthen your drive by going along the Gorges de l'Ardeche on your way to Aix.
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Old Apr 8th, 2003, 02:42 PM
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Great info! I already have a place to stay, but do you have a restaurant you could recommend in between if we go to chenoceaux, in the am and chambord in the pm?
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Old Apr 8th, 2003, 04:29 PM
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Thank you for the advice on Burgundy. I think this is the best route considering our destination point in Aix. Seems like Beaune is a popular place to base ourselves in and then perhaps Lyon for the next evening. Is the best way to take a train into Beaune from Paris and rent a car in Beaune? Worth while stops from Beaune to Lyon (Tournus?). Any hotel recommendations? Thanks again for your advice!
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