Loire Valley where to Stay

Old Apr 1st, 2007, 12:19 PM
  #1  
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Loire Valley where to Stay

We plan on taking the train from Paris to the Loire Valley. I have no intentions of driving but will take day tours unless everyone here tells me not to. If I don't drive, which town is the best to stay and are there any Chateaux's that we can stay in where a care isn't a neccessity? Thanks
joeyrm7 is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2007, 02:23 PM
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Tour is the gatweay to the Loire. Amboise, Saumur, Blois, Anger and Saumur are the ones that come to mind where you wouldn't need a car at all and where there is a lot to see and do besides seeing the chateau.

You can research online the individual cities and what they offer as well as find info here by doing a work search. Each is quite unique, so it depends on what you are looking for. Have fun!
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Old Apr 1st, 2007, 02:24 PM
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Sorry that should read "Tours" - the city
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Old Apr 1st, 2007, 05:43 PM
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Getting to many of the chateaux by public transit can be a ear - sincce many are situated in tiny villages with very rare train or bus service.

To really see much you either need to rent a car - or take guided tours from wherever you stay. Or - just realize it will take quite a while to get anywhere and cut down on what you can see.

I wouldn't stay in Tours - too much of a big and somewhat modernish city - but possibly Amboise or even Blois.

(Although we rented a car and so stayed in a private chateaux near Chinon. That way we were able to see 2 chateaux per day, some of the other sights - and even a couple son et lumiere shows.)
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Old Apr 1st, 2007, 07:05 PM
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Why do you have no intentions of driving? It's by far the best way to get around that area and allows you to make better choices of where to stay.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 05:36 AM
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I hate to admit but there are 4 reasons that I haven't rented cars in Europe.
1. I have never driven a stick, automatics are hard to come by
2. I can get lost in a paper bag
3. My wife can't read a map to save our lives (although GPS does exist)
4. Not worth the arguments with my wife that will arise.

If everyone tells me that it's worth it, I might just breakdown and rent one.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 05:52 AM
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It is worth it. But, invest the time and learn to drive a stick now before you go. You will feel that much more like a European.

Rick
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 06:06 AM
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Joey--Automatic cars are NOT difficult to come by, just more expensive. Try Autoeurope for rental cars. I would opt of the added expense, though, just to eliminate one of your sticking points. It is NOT difficult to drive in the Loire Valley if you can read a map, never mind blaming the wife. Take the train to Tours and rent the car there.

I'd suggest staying in Amboise as a base and doing daytrips from there
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 06:45 AM
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I agree with Margo completely. Spend the money and rent an automatic.

The roads in the Loire valley are good and well-marked.

If you have your own GPS which has a Europe map database you might consider taking it with you.

You can certainly do the various chateuax on organized tours but you'll enjoy the flexibility that a car will bring.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 07:13 AM
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Its been a couple of years but we stayed in Chinon. We rented a car in Tours and drove to all the sites. It is not a big deal to drive and you will be much happier. Here are some pics we took during our trip: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/91d62/1c/
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 11:36 AM
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Don;t even think about renting a stick. You can get automatics in europe everywhere with no problems (we've rented dozens - and never had a problem getting one reserved in advance).

If neither of you can read a map - perhaps that's a skill to work on - since it's useful everywhere. (And you can bring all the local map printouts with you - and look at them before each drive.) (Sorry not to be more help here - but I'm one of those people with a good direction bump - always know where I am - don;t ask me how.)

If you really can;t bear to drive - perhaps take taxis from hotel to chateau so you can set your own times (the tours really rush you through).
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Old Apr 4th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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Hi Joey,

I encourage you to take the train to Tours and rent a car. We have driven in France 3 times and only had trouble getting an automatic the first time when we decided to visit Normandie 3 weeks before our scheduled departure for Paris. My husband called it "Autopia with a clutch" and he had not driven a stick since high school (a few decades ago). Thought it was rather fun and it was pretty easy to navigate--but I am a pretty good navigator.

We have already booked an automatic for the fall which we will pick up in Amboise. I hope it goes as well as our experience in Tours a few years ago. Automatics seem to come in nicer cars like a Passat or Mercedes so we have room for luggage and husband's long legs.

Look into a stay at the Chateau de Rochecotte, a beautiful hotel with large comfortable rooms under $200 with wonderful service and the best baguettes we've had in France. We had a lovely dinner on the terrace on our last night a few years ago. www.franceby.com/derochecotte/index.html
The Rochecotte was a great location to visit Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Usse and Langeais. We took a picturesque secondary road to Chennonceau to avoid the traffic going through Tours. That drive was a highlight of the trip.

Let us know what you decide,

Scootoie
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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Never say that I don't listen to what people have to say. Ended up renting a car with automatic and will update the GPS with european maps. My wife is happy because the tension level has been eliminated. Nothing left to do but go and enjoy. Thanks all
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 09:19 PM
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The Chateau de Rochecotte really is a fabulous hotel.

A train to St Pierre des Corps [56
minutes from Gare Montparnasse] and rental from Avis is a good alternative.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 09:35 PM
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Driving in that part of France is relatively simple (as in not so crazy) except for all the tiny roads. Find Michelin maps that are 1:100000, that will help you a lot.

I prefer Amboise as it's centrally located and has its own Chateau. You can train down to Tours and rent a car from there.

www.viamichelin.com is a great driving source, print everything out in color, even my wife can read it.

Make sure your GPS is in English. Hertz has 'promised' me that for the car I'm renting next month.

Coming up from Tours print out viamichelin's trips to Chenenceaux (must see), Villandry and any other Chateau you might want to visit on your way to Amboise.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 09:48 PM
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I agree that a car is the way to go. If you once knew how to drive a stick, you never forget. It usually takes me 5 minutes to get used to it again and I'm off.

Please remember that the Loire is a huge area and there are tons of chateaus. I have been there 4 times (including a month long home exchange one time) and still have not been to Cheverny and Saumur (at opposite ends of the area). When I was in Tours for a month I saw 18 places that could be classified as "chateaus", although some were further afield and were not, strictly speaking, in the Loire.

Please remember that only the main chateaus have tours in English. My French is good enough that it really didn't matter, but for many people that will be an issue.
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