Loire Valley Trip Recommendations

Aug 30th, 2008, 11:25 AM
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Loire Valley Trip Recommendations

Yesterday we began Loire Valley Multi-Day trip from Paris:
Monparness Metro Station - (First TGV out)TGV to St Pierre du Corps (1 hour)
Pickup Rental Car at station (5 minutes)
On the road with Garmin Nuvi GPS:
Chateau Chenonceau - One of the most picturesque, as it is built over the river (Recommended Visit)
Chateau Cheverny - Picturesque Chateau on "golf course sized" grounds. This is the place with the hunting dogs that you have heard of (Recommended, but not the nicest)
Chateau Blois - Chateau smack in the center of a busy larger city. The outdoor staircase is faboulus to see, and the Chateau has 4 major architectural styles., (This one I would leave out, unless I wanted to see all Chateaus in the area)
Chateau Chambord - The largest French Loirs Chateau, or rather hunting lodge, great fromn the outside, but the surrounding area is the epitome of commercialism, too touristy. The inside is so-so, except for the Da Vinci inspired double spiral staircase, that was worth the visit (a So-So, unless you consider the staircase, and the building from the outside)

This was day one, and I did see all areas of each Chateau, including most of every garden. This shows that you can do 3-4 Chateau in one day, as a day trip from Paris, and still return to the train station in time to catch the last train back to Paris. It is an ambitious amount to see, but I didn't feel rushed, I do drive a bit fast, and the GPS helped me get to each place without looking at a map at all.

Day two:
Chateau Villandry - This Chateau and Gardens are fantastic ! For anyone that likes gardens, this is a must! I have never seen vegetable gardens that look so perfect! 3-4 different garden types, one of the nicest gardens in all of France! The chateau is nice as well, and is still in private hands. (Must See)
Chateau de Langeais - Mideivel Chateau in the middle of a beautiful small town. The Chateau has a working drawbridge . The town was nice to walk thru. (A nice example of mideivel chateau (Recommended, for the towns setting)
Chateau Usse - The Chateau that was the insiration for the story about Sleeping Beauty, including the tower where she was kept. I was expecting much more, and was dissapointed (So-So)
Chateau L'Azay-le-Rideau - This was a nice Chateau, in a nice smaller town that we liked. (Recommended)
Fortress Royale de Chinon - I was also dissappointed in this one. The place is under construction since 2006, and you can't see everything- This is where Joan of Arc met King Charles, and decided to aid him win the 100 year war. (So-So, I am sorry to say)

Started early today!

Tommorrow stay most of the day in Amboise and see:
Amboise Castle
Da Vinci Museum

A Note on visiting Chateau in the Loire "I" would NOT recommend coming here, unless you are willing to rent a car. This is my personal opinion, but how else can you get from Chateau to Chateau? Public transportation would take ages, and tour buses are not the way to do this. The only reason someone would not rent a car here is: (1) They are under the legal age (2) Are over 80+ (3) Can not drive
With a GPS, this is easier than driving in the US. Just MY opinion (not fact).

PS- I take back every praise I have formally given to the Garmin Nuvi GPS- The new top model I just bot, has a habit of taking you for extremeley long U-Turns (up to 30 KM) if you miss a turn. This happened 3 times.
Intex is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 11:31 AM
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Which model Garmin Nuvi?
grandmere is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 11:55 AM
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If I am missing any Must-See Chateaux/Castles/Small Towns, let me know asap.
I am here a few more days.
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Aug 30th, 2008, 12:01 PM
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bookmarking
Thanks, Intex!
TDudette is online now  
Aug 30th, 2008, 11:17 PM
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Garmin Nuvi 760, There should be a reason why this unit takes long routes. Twice It told me to get onto a toll road (pay the toll), just to turn around 3 Km later and go back the same way (and pay the toll again), instead of making a U-turn at the toll booth??????
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Aug 31st, 2008, 09:33 AM
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I'm amazed - we never managed more than 2 a day - and that wasn't seeing everything. Twice we did a son et lumiere in the evening -- but chateaux we had already seen in daytime. You must be jogging through them and not stopping for meals.
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Sep 1st, 2008, 04:39 AM
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Today we visisted:
Chateu Chaumont- A very nice Chateau with nice views of the Loire Valley (Recommended)
Chatea Amboise - Home of King Francoise (Recommended)
Chateau de Clos Luce - Where Da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life (Recommended)
Vouvray- Wine Tasting and Buying.

After 12+ Chateau, I think we have reached saturation point, This can physically exhaust you with all the stairs combined with the heat.
Tommorrow on to Tours.

First few days at Manoir des Mimines, last days at Pavillon de Lys, which had MUCH larger rooms, actually immense. The restuarant's dinner was one of the best meals of the trip, and actually quite reasonable.

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Sep 1st, 2008, 04:40 AM
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Garmin Nuvi 760:
Evidently I was not aware that the default setting for the Nuvi, hidden in some obscure menu, Has a default for: NO U-TURNS.
Once that was clicked off, things worked better!
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Sep 1st, 2008, 04:42 AM
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Hotel Pavillon de Lys:
I can not say enough about this place. Excellent service, friendly staff, Excellent Food, Very Nice rooms! I would stay here for weeks if I had the opportunity.
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Sep 1st, 2008, 04:48 AM
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Actually we saw all of each Chauteau, although not all of the gardens, except Villandry. Remember this was August and the sun beats down hard in the afternoons.

We took the audio tours of each place that had them available, and followed guided tours on others, and at 3 Chateau took private tours.

I didn't spend alot of time at lunch, started early, and most Chateau are open past 7pm, so you have at least 10 hours a day to visit. I agree you need alot of stamina to visit 4-5 a day, but it is possible, and I did not feel rushed at all. We did not doddle around afterwards though.

Maybe this is not ideal, but in 4 days, it is impossible to see the majors as well as towns otherwise. I would have rather stayed 2-3 weeks, but the Hotel was fully booked afterwards.
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Sep 1st, 2008, 06:51 AM
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I share your opinions of the various chateaux almost exactly. Nice overview. Where is Pavilion de Lys? We loved Minimes so if de Lys is better it must be something.
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Sep 1st, 2008, 08:13 AM
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Julie,
It is about 2 blocks from the river and about 3 blocks from the castle, Pretty close to everything. We found it in a better more secluded area. The rtooms were immaculate and newly redone.

The breakfast and dinner were fantastic, better than those costing 4 times more in Paris. Would not hesitate to go back.
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Sep 1st, 2008, 08:52 AM
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Checked out the website. Looks lovely. Thanks for the tip.
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Sep 1st, 2008, 10:51 AM
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Wow! Saturation point indeed! Thanks for the overview of Chateaux. Will be there in Loire in 3 weeks for 3 or 4 nights and trying to choose 3-4 chateaux to see. Your recommendations are noted and much appreciated!
Jenny

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Sep 2nd, 2008, 12:55 AM
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Jenny,
Depending on where you stay, and if you are going for R&R, or to see as much as you can, I think you will find that in 3-4 nite stay, you will be able to see much more than 3-4 Chateaux. Just my observation.
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Sep 2nd, 2008, 05:41 AM
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Thanks for that info. I'm kind of thinking the same thing - after all, we will be 4 very able bodied adults and we tend to walk quickly and not dawdle around as a rule.

I'll add a couple more to my list. We also want to go to at least 2 vineyards - we'll probably go over to Vouvray.
Jenny
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Sep 2nd, 2008, 08:42 AM
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We didn't go to any vineyards here, I am not sure there's that much to see. Been to what seemed like everyone in Bordeaux and Reims before, so we just went to a large wine tasting "cave" There is one right outside of Vouvray, in a town that starts with Mo , that had almost every Vouvray wine producers wine. We sampled a few, and left with a few.
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