Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Loire Valley: Options for Getting Around?

Notices

Loire Valley: Options for Getting Around?

Old Oct 15th, 2011, 06:29 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 59
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loire Valley: Options for Getting Around?

My wife and I are planning to spend a week in the Loire Valley in April 2012. Having never been there before, we're hoping we can seek the wisdom of fellow forumites on the options for getting around. We will hire a car if we have to but were wondering if it is possible to base ourselves in Chinon and do day trips from there by train? (We'd rather stay in one place than move every few days).
From the little I've read so far, we're thinking of keeping the Chateau visits to say Chambord, Chenonceau and perhaps Blois? The plan was just to spend the rest of our time enjoying the region as best we can. We both love exploring (walking around) the towns we visit and taking it all in ... well, as much as we can in a week! (We have no plan to try to see "everything". Just want to relax and enjoy our holiday).
Are we being absolutely crazy for even thinking that train-ing is an option?
Would also be grateful for any other suggestions any of you might have for particular towns you think are worth visiting and foods/wines we should definitely not miss.
gj05 is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2011, 08:30 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No. You cannot take a train from Chinon to Chambord or Chenonceau. Staying in Chinon will mean you're way on the wrong side of Tours from Chambord, Chenonceau and Blois.

Stay in or around Amboise, which is further east and has a nice chateau of its own. You can see Chenonceau and Chambord in a day by car (Chenonceau is relatively small) and consider the chateaux at Amboise (take the carriage exit), Cheverny (the basis for Marlinspike Hall in the Tintin series), and Blois. You'll still have time to see the region without rushing.

One place to visit west of Amboise (and Tours) is the Abbey de Fontevreaud. Look it up to see why.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2011, 09:35 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,984
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Actually you can take the train to Chenonceaux (via Tours) but it will consume a lot of your valuable vacation time. You can also take the train to Blois from where you can take a bus to Chambord (but again, travelling this way takes time).

If I were to visit the Loire Valley without a car, I would stay in either Tours or Blois from where you can easily take one of the many minibus tours to various châteaux. More information is available here:

http://www.bloispaysdechambord.com/
http://www.ligeris.com/

If I had a car, I would avoid Amboise and its hordes of tourists and stay at the nearby Auberge de Launay, a very charming location with an excellent restaurant:

http://www.aubergedelaunay.com/index.html

I might also consider a base in Loches which is very charming and an interesting visit itself:

http://www.loches-tourainecotesud.com/
Sarastro is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2011, 12:12 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 36,577
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The last time we were in that part of the Loire we actually took the train to Blois from Paris (you could also do so to Tours from Paris..ultimately a shorter trip) and rented a car and we DID stay in Amboise because even though you are going to find a LOT of so-called tourists...just like YOU...in ALL of these popular places, at least in Amboise we had found a hotel we really wanted to stay in.

I agree that going to Chenonceau by rail is possible and that it takes a lot of time as opposed to it being an EASY drive. Chambord is out in the sticks and either do it on one of the various bus tours you can get from Blois or Amboise or Tours or rent a car.

If you are relatively near Tours you might at least consider Villandry especially if you like gardens.

Frankly, I think you should re-think the possibility of a car rental because it will make your sightseeing time MUCH more efficient.
Dukey1 is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2011, 12:38 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,705
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would not even consider it without a car. Driving in France is great I prefer it to driving here at home. My perswonal preference is to stay at a country monor house or chateau so I can have as much wine with my dinner as I want.We have enjoyed 3 stas at Le Domaine des Hauts de Loire. Every thing was in reasonable driving distance and the rooms and food are lovely!
avalon is offline  
Old Oct 16th, 2011, 01:14 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,310
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would definitely recommend driving - it gives you so much more flexibility and gets you to many more places.

We spent 4 days there in June of this year and it was lovely. We chose to stay in Loches and were so happy we did. They have a lovely market, a few great restaurants and was a very pretty town. Its a bit farther afield, but we saw Chambord and Chenonceau with no problem.

You can read our trip report and see our pics here:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ance-again.cfm
jamikins is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 03:23 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 59
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. Really appreciate you taking the time. Guess we'll start looking into rental cars!
gj05 is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 08:52 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You really ned to rent a car to visit the Loire. Many of the chateaux are in very tiny towns with essentially no pubic transit (perhaps 1 bus a day) and trying to get around by train will be extremely time-consuming and frustrating -even to those places that have train service.

If you really don;t want to drive yourselves consider siging up for a series of tours by van.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 09:00 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,967
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I did it without a car, it is very possible. If all you want to do is visit a couple chateaux and walk around whatever town you plan to stay in, there is no problem with that. YOu only need a car if you want to do more and drive around the countryside. I stayed in Tours as it had the best public transport and took the train or bus to several chateaux from there, it wasn't difficult at all (Chenonceau, Blois, Amboise and Azay le Rideau). That was actually enough chateaux for me, I'm not overtly fascinated in big stone houses and a lot of them are not furnished or refurbished especially. I believe I took the bus to Amboise as it had a better schedule.

It really depends what you want to do with your time and want to see. I was interested in seeing Tours in and of itself and am not that keen on staying in country manors.
Christina is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 09:05 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,584
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
well, I'm in the car group. you'll see a lot more IMHO than if you rely on public transport, and have more choice of where to stay - there are chateaux that do B&B for example.

to the list of "must sees" above, can I add Villandry? not for the chateaux itself, but for the garden - google it to see why.
annhig is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 09:05 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'll ditto on the car. I rented in Paris, drove to Fontainbleau, then started east to west along the Loire valley. At the end I looped back to Paris via Chartres and Giverny.
The benefit of a car is the ability to stop wherever I wanted, to explore side roads, vineries, caves,etc.. I also went to many Son et Lumieres shows at the chateaux. Wherever I was at the end of the day I looked for a hotel.

Driving was easy, even the cities were not too bad for finding way around. Part of the good memories of the trip was taking off down small country roads and exploring and getting lost (pre GPS days).

Total trip time for me was ~10 days.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 09:30 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No. You cannot take a train from Chinon to Chambord or Chenonceau. Staying in Chinon will mean you're way on the wrong side of Tours from Chambord, Chenonceau and Blois.>

Well you certainly can take a train from Chinon via Tours to Chenonceau - schedules are spotty but there definitely is service - buses may be substituted for trains on some Chinon to Tours services.

For Chambord you could take a train from Chinon to Blois - easily done via a change at Tours or St-Pierre-des-Crops (the real main train station in Tours) and in season there are shuttle buses from Blois train station to Chambord and also spotty local buses that you should not depend on.

I agree Amboise makes a much better utilitarian base for the three castles you want to see plus Amboise also has a neat old castle and other sites like the Clos Luce, Leonardo da Vinci's house where he died and a now a museum to him and his inventions.

You could even rent bikes and ride about a dozen miles or so thru a nice forest from Amboise to Chenonceau

And from Amboise there are several mini-bus shuttles to many many Loire castles, including Chambord, to many the most magnificent if not beautiful of all Loire castles - Chenonceaux usually takes the beauty list (though to me Azay-le-Rideau is tops! - beauty in the eye of the beholder.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 10:14 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
BigRuss is technically correct that you cannot take a train from Chinon to Chenonceau as trains from Chinon to Tours are currently having buses substituted for the trains - the buses are run by the railway so it is a thru train ticket - there are several bus-rail links daily taking about 2.25 hours to reach Chenonceaux castle - slow-moving for sure.

Check out the mini-bus tours from Chinon, similar to Amboise, that will take you effortlessly to various castles - they are just a shuttle bus and not a guided tour, providing reasonable inexpensive transportation to the castle gates.

For more info on French trains check out these sites - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. Check www.voyages-sncf.com for schedules and various fares.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 11:17 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 91
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We also did it with a car which we rented from Avis at the St Pierre Des Corps train station.

We really liked Clos Luce, Leonardo's chateau in Amboise. Unlike some, it's not enormous (unless you also tour the gardens and grounds) and is very well furnished, plus you get to see replicas of his inventions. That in itself is pretty mind blowing.
Davethecat65 is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2011, 12:29 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
French railways have always IME had an Train + Auto plan including train ticket (for ex to St-Pierre-des-Corps, Tours mainline train station in the suburbs to the south two miles) and AVIS car rental awaiting you at a station. Not sure of pricing but could be a good deal it seems - even though other rental agencies at St-Pierre-des-Corps are just opposite the station with the AVIS plan thru French Railways I think you can return the car at other stations and then train on your way. say like driving to Blois and returning from there to Paris.
PalenQ is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
melly169
Europe
4
Jun 6th, 2013 10:51 AM
returntoyourseat
Europe
19
Feb 16th, 2011 01:40 AM
bobnwa
Europe
8
Apr 24th, 2010 01:37 PM
SShprints
Europe
20
Aug 21st, 2007 05:22 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO