Narrowing down daytrips from Paris

Aug 13th, 2014, 02:36 AM
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We did exactly the trip suggested by Sarastro, taking the train to Blois and then the navette to various châteaux in the vicinity and I highly recommend it.

There are frequent departures all day so you can spend as much or as little time as you please at each château. The price can't be beat! It would have been a perfect day if the weather hadn't suddenly turned rainy and windy.

We went in April, and instead of the large bus shown on the brochure, there was a mini-bus.
bvlenci is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 05:20 AM
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Interesting comment: "We found the castle in Amboise fascinating just because it wasn't a "pretty/pretty" chateau - but seemed more of a legitimate military fortress and a big change from many of the others."

I believe there are some 300 "chateaux" in the Loire region of all shapes and sizes. If I may quote from my trip report of 2012:

"Why so many chateaux? The Hundred Years War 1337-1453 (dates vary) was basically a bloody, protracted struggle between France and England and their surrogates stemming from their contradictory claims of sovereignty and inheritance dating back to the Battle of Hastings. We will not attempt to untangle the byzantine complexities of those noble families competing for power including the Capets, Anjous, Burgundians, and Valois. Result – the Kings of France retreated from the coast to the fertile Loire Valley during this time where they built their splendid chateaux.

The first structures were basically fortifications. But as the threat of invasion diminished over time, they became more elegant, akin to the 'stately homes' of Britain. Of course, 'when the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux here, the nobility, not wanting or even daring to be far from the seat of power, followed suit.' Voila- chateaux everywhere! Philippe [guide] said that many are now privately owned by old industrial families who can afford to maintain them..."

KEROUAC, enjoyed revisiting your wonderful excursion to Auvers-sur-Oise - loved the wheat fields with poppies and the hollyhocks in particular.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 09:11 AM
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bvlenci- thanks for the info. The navette wouldn't work for us since we're not going till Oct., but will keep in mind for a future trip.
vanne is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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We'll have been in the Loire for 2 weeks by the time you take off on your trip. We're staying in a Gite halfway between Blois & Amboise. Post something after Sept 24 or top this thread to get my attention, & I'll try to provide my thoughts on the Amboise Chateau compared to the other 14 two & three star chateaux we're planning on visiting in the region. I'll also provide some input on the city of Amboise compared to the hundreds of similarly-sized towns we've visited in France. We've spent about 4 weeks in this area east of Chinon on prior trips - but none since my wife got a digital camera. We stayed in a Gite for a week west of Chinon a few years ago - with digital camera.

I'll also provide my thoughts on the Da Vinci house. We visited Milan last year & saw the huge room/library with his sketches/designs in his own handwriting.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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the Da Vinci House, which I have visited umpteen times, gets mixed reviews - I like it but many find it fake - re-created machines hanging from the walls - not sure why many are less than enthused but it's small and takes relatively little time.

The Chateau d'Amboise is yes a fortified castle (chateau fort) and thus looks more like a fortress on the front facade hovering over the Loire than more sumptuous Chenonceau - about 15 miles or so from Amboise and ubiquitously called the finest Loire castle - you can take a train right to Chenonceau too if you want to see the consensus finest castle but there is little in the little town of Chenonceaux - yes with an x on the end for some reason - to see or do save a few cafes, small stores, etc.

I like the Amboise Castle a lot - reeks of history with Francois I reigning from here and bring the Rennaisance to France, literally, in bringing an aging Leonardo here and put him up in his own house with lovely gardens.

Amboise is also IMO at the very prettiest stretch of the Loire - a wide sandy river bed here with in dry seasons trinklets of water sashshaying thru it. The view from the island in the middle of the Loire - the western tip is superb - great place for a picnic.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 13th, 2014, 01:13 PM
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The OP is asking this question in reference to making day trips from Paris. They are not planning an extended stay in the Loire Valley. In the context of a day trip, I would not consider Amboise as compelling a visit as other possibilities such as Strasbourg, Dijon, Chartres or even Tours; particularly for someone who already has visited many of the most important châteaux in France.
Sarastro is offline  
Aug 14th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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I think it depends on your interests, I think Amboise is just as interesting as Chartres, that's for sure. There isn't much to do there of any importance but look at the cathedral, I found Amboise more interesting than Chartres.

I don't really know why people are so interested in seeing chateaux, actually. I am not that interested in seeing big empty stone buildings where rich people lived. So they have to have something special of interest (internally or historically) or be the house of some personnage I am particularly interested in for me to care much about them. For that reason, I found the ones in AMboise and Blois interesting because they were different. It also helps if they have some beautiful gardens, but that isn't enough for me. YOu can just more easily go to Fontainebleau if you want to see pretty gardens and a beautiful chateau, and there is more to see, there, also, withe the Napoleon museum and the history.
Christina is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 01:45 PM
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I, too, found the Chateau d'Amboise fascinating - it reeks of history, as did Le Clos Luce. I spent three days in Amboise, driving to Blois one of those days. Amboise is a charming town, and would be a lovely day trip! I spent 10 days in the Loire Valley, also staying in Chinon and Saumur - visiting MANY chateaux. Amboise was my favorite place to stay.

I think Rouen deserves more than a day trip, as does Strasbourg, but Chartres is a lovely day trip, and so easy to do. I also give my vote for Ina Caro's books, both of them! She has wonderful ideas. Another book with great ideas is "An Hour From Paris" by Annabel Simms - concise and shorter than Caro's, but good nevertheless. I bought both from Amazon, and had a wonderful time reading and planning before my last 2 week stay in Paris, in May. And I did some day trips suggested in both those books.
Sue4 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 02:59 PM
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There isn't much to do there of any importance but look at the cathedral>

You may want to look around a bit more and discover some nice things most tourists who beeline from the train station to cathedral and back miss in Chartres - like Little Venice - a quaint canal with ancient wooden buildings hanging over it and Picassiette's House - a world-renown exemplar of Art Naive - a street cleaner took the bits and shards of glasses, plates, etc - detritus he found and put them in his garden, fashioning them into veritable works of art - like his reporcution from broken tiles of Chartres Cathedral.

Local kids nicknamed the street cleaner "Picassiette" - a feminized form of Picasso that was mocking him.

Chartres has some really unique things apart from the cathedral but it takes ferreting them out.

Images of the Maison Picassiette:
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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I think we've got a good list for daytrips -- can't really make up our minds on Rouen vs. Amboise so I think we'll probably just decide on the spur of the moment -- we'll get up and check the weather reports and decide where to go. We usually travel with a list of things we want to do and if we get 75% (or even 50%) in, that's fine with us - even though it's our 4th trip to Paris together and I've done another many years ago, there's still so much to see in Paris. We like to take time to "smell the roses" (although in reality I'm not that fond of the scent of roses), rather than running around too much.

Really appreciate all the input!
vanne is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 05:51 PM
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I must agree with PalenQ that there is more to Chartres than just the cathedral and a few minutes spent on the tourist office website would reveal this.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Aug 15th, 2014, 07:43 PM
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We'll definitely explore the city -- I've read about the canal and the Art Naïve house. One of the reasons I put Chartres on the list is that even though I've already seen the cathedral, I was with a college group at the time and all we were allowed time for was to see the cathedral.
vanne is offline  
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