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caracv Oct 6th, 2003 01:42 PM

Loire Valley Itinerary Advice

Thank you to everyone for help with my previous Loire Valley post. I now need help with the actual itinerary/route.

We plan to leave Paris on a Tues. morning around 9am. We will p/u rental car at Gare Montparnasse as a result of board suggestions unless someone has a better suggestion.

We will drive straight to the Loire Valley and are leaning towards staying in Ambroise at Le Choiseul.

We would like to visit 2 chateaus the first day and have lunch sometime either before both visits or pref. in between. (maybe Chenonceau & Chambord.) (what town for lunch?)

dinner prob. at hotel or in town

We would also like to see the following (maybe on day two and we would also like to have lunch at some point):
- town of Azay-le-Rideau (maybe castle too)
- Blois
- Villandry
- wine tasting??
- Le Clos Luce???
- visit Chartres on return route to Paris

I would really appreciate any input and advice!

Thank you!

caracv Oct 6th, 2003 01:57 PM

I think Le Choiseul will be closed for the season while we are there...

jody Oct 6th, 2003 02:58 PM

La Clos Luce is right in the very center of Amboise so no problem...Azay-le-Rideau is one of my favorites..I found it even more enchanting then Chenenceaux. Villandy is another highlight that should not be missed. The gardens are unbelievable!

Can't say much about visiting Chartres on a return to is such an easy day trip from Paris on the train..that I think I'd rather spend those few extra hours in the Loire.

RonZ Oct 6th, 2003 04:29 PM

I suggest you stop at Chartres on the way down, then on the way back to Paris drop the car and take a train. On a short trip like this I don't see the advantage of taking the time to drive back.

jal52 Oct 7th, 2003 09:53 PM

Just returned yesterday.

We started at Chartres -- well worth the stop! Be sure to take Malcolm Miller's tour; just show up outside the gift shop at noon or 2:45.

We loved Chenonceau. Chambord and Cheverny were good also. I must disagree with the other poster; we did not like the chateau at Azay le Rideau at all; it made me cringe to see that they had pasted paper labels on the artwork and had antique furniture baking in the sun, badly damaged. Also, they had some really bizarre modern photographs in some of the rooms.

sansdieu Oct 11th, 2003 08:23 PM

Azay-le-Rideau is not very big, but in my opinion, it's the prettiest castle in the Loire Valley, especially when water lillies are in bloom (I can't address jal52's other two concerns, since I didn't see any labels or furniture exposed to the sun, but the reason for modern photographs is that chateaux often serve as hosts to different art exhibits, some better than others, but all temporary).

Chenonceau and Chambord are kind of far from each other, so you'd be better off if you saw them on two different days. Chenonceau is closer to Amboise; Chambord is not far from Blois. So it makes a lot more sense to see Chenonceau and le Clos Lucé one one day, and Chambord and Blois on another.

Also, it is just my opinion, but you seem to be packing too much into one day (take it from me, the classic overachiever). If you are driving from Gare Montparnasse to the Loire Valley *and* want to have lunch, you'll be lucky to see one chateau that day. Lunch at any decent restaurant would take you at least 1.5-2 hours, driving is going to take you about 3 hrs (if there's no traffic--not a very realistic scenario), and most castles close at 5 or 6 pm. And you want squeeze in wine-tasting, Villandry, and Azay-le-Rideau as well? Same for your trip back--even if you do get to see all the things you want in the Loire Valley, by the time you get to Chartres, the cathedral will be closed.

caracv Oct 13th, 2003 08:50 PM

Thank you very much for all of the replies. Each has been very helpful. I especially appreciate the last one which addresses specific itinerary/logisitical issues. Thank you again!

Kavey Oct 14th, 2003 01:44 AM

We twice had dinner in a restaurant in Villandry which was very enjoyable and a little different to menus we've come across more frequently in France.
You'd have to check whether they are open for lunch but the details of the restaurant are as follows:
L?Etape Gourmande
Domaine de la Giraudière

Feedback on it can be found in this thread:;tid=34430811

MGB Oct 14th, 2003 05:23 AM

If they are open for lunch, in Chenonceaux, La Roseraie has wonderful food. We stayed there last month and in particular, the Onion soup was great. I think the hotel closes part of the year so it depends on when you go. They are a 5 minute walk from the Chateau.

mr_go Oct 14th, 2003 05:41 AM

My opinions:

Chenonceau...a must-see.

Chambord...ditto, but kind of empty inside.

Azay le Rideau...I loved the chateau. Chinon's a better town for hanging out.

Blois...Great town and chateau. Ditto Amboise.

Villandry...Just go for the gardens; you don't need to see inside.

Wine tasting...Do-able, but not nearly as customer-friendly as, say, California. Helps if you speak French.

Clos Luce...Didn't see it, but really wish I had.

Chartres...We did it on the way down from Paris. World-class cathedral, and not a bad little town center. Thumb's up.

Don't waste your time with...Chateau d'Usse. Kitschy as hell.

Places to consider, further afield...Saumur and Angers are terrific, if you have time. Pretty drive along the river to get there, too.

cbo86 Oct 14th, 2003 05:50 AM

Why rent a car in Paris and drive to the Loire? With traffic and distance it will take at least 3 hours. Take the TGV from Paris to Tours, it only takes 1 hour(and is an experience in itself) and pick up your car rental at the train station(we used Avis thru Auto Europe) This will save you loads of time and the hassle of driving in Paris especially if you're doing the Loire in only 2 days. In Amboise Le Clos Luce is only a short walk from your hotel(if I remember right) and can be viewed in 2 hrs(or more if you so choose). I would also include the Chateau in Amboise where Da Vinci is said to be buried(about 1-2 hrs to view chateau and grounds) especially at dusk if only for the views of the river and valley below.

StCirq Oct 14th, 2003 06:30 AM

I agree with the last poster that taking the train to Tours and picking up your rental car there will same you time and hassle.
In Amboise have lunch at Madame Bigot's former pastry shop turned café/bistro at the foot of the château and spend the first day visiting the château and the Clos Lucé.
For an outstanding meal, find your way to nearby Bléré and have dinner at le Cheval Blanc.
The little restaurants on the grounds at Chambord are more than adequate for a light lunch if you don't want to take time for the full 2-hour affair.
Visit Chartres on the way back to Paris, leave your car there, and take the train back into the city.

sansdieu Oct 14th, 2003 05:03 PM

I actually explored a similar scenario for my friends just last month (except we already had a car). My friends were initially supposed to take the TGV from Paris to Tours where we would pick them up. We subsequently found out that the TGV schedule didn't coordinate well with their flight (the TGV departs every 2-3 hours) and instead had them take the hourly train from Gare Austerlitz to Blois (it's 1.5 hrs vs. 1 hr on the more expensive TGV). But because it's an hourly train, it allows for much more flexible scheduling. Plus, driving from Tours (St-Pierre-des-Corps) to Amboise would take you 20-25 minutes, and even longer to Blois, so you really don't save any time by taking the TGV, if you are planning to see the castles right away. (We went straight from Blois to Chambord.)

One caveat: car rental is very limited at the Blois station (we only saw Avis, but there might be other outlets nearby that I don't know about), so that's something you must find out ahead of time.

zoecat5 Oct 14th, 2003 05:28 PM

Hi there,

We were in Amboise at the end of September (stayed at Manoir Les Minimes for 4 nights - would recomment it!). We had dinner at Le Choiseul which was to die for.

We spent the first day doing the Amboise Castle and le Close Luce (you really want a nice day if you can do do the Close Luce as the gardens are quite large and interesting and filled with inventions. If you can believe it, we did Chenonceau, Cheverny and Chambord in one day - we didn't go inside Chambord, as we had been told it's quite empty, but enjoyed walking around the outside (for free). Cheverny has great hunting dogs and beautiful furnishings and Chenonceau looks like it's out of a fairy tale.

We had a nice lunch near Cheverny (at a little Creperie across the street) which was great.

I can't comment on wine tasting as we saved that for when we went to the champagne region.

We decided not to stop in Chartres, as we had a long drive to Champagne, but on the way to the Loire Valley from Paris we stopped at Giverny. If they're still open when you're going, it's definately worth a stop!


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