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Self-guided driving tour of the Loire Valley?

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Aug 3rd, 2011, 01:57 PM
  #1
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Self-guided driving tour of the Loire Valley?

A few years ago when I traveled to Italy I used a self-guided driving tour of Tuscany that (I believe) was written by StuDudley. Does anyone know of a similar driving tour for the Loire Valley? My husband and I will be staying in Amboise for four days and would like ideas for scenic drives.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 02:35 PM
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From a 'professional' tour side...I have used the Michelin Green Guide and have liked their various tour recommendations. Might be somewhere to start.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 02:50 PM
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One does not necessarily go to the Loire Valley for scenic drives. Châteaux, wineries, or troglodyte villages perhaps but one usually has a specific destination in mind.

I´ll second the Michelin Green Guides for Châteaux of the Loire.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 02:55 PM
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I agree that just tooling around the Loire Valley isn't all that rewarding, scenery-wise. Best just to pick what you want to visit and go there. A good map and a guidebook (Michelin Green is of course excellent) are all you need for that.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:20 PM
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Our old (2006) Michelin road atlas describes 50 driving tours throughout France. There are two in the Loire area, one for troglodyte caves and one for most beautiful chateaux of the Loire. It looks like one big loop to me, from Angers in the west to Chambord in the east, out on one side of the Loire and back on the other.

The road atlas and the Michelin regional/departmental maps show scenic roads marked in green. When you decide where you want to go, you can usually find a scenic drive to get you there at least part of the way.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 04:00 PM
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Here is a great resource:

http://www.loirevalleytourism.com/

it has loads of info, including, under the tab "discover" 10 different driving tours round the chateaux of the area.

I agree that the Green guide is also very good.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 06:57 AM
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Thank you for your replies. This driving tour of Tuscany wasn't just driving around all day. It was more a guide that took you from town to town, to an abbey, a goat farm, pointed out places to pull over to get great views of hilltop towns, etc. That's what I was hoping for in the Loire. Oh well!

If I get the Michelin Green Guide do I also need to purchase a map? My local Barnes & Noble didn't have the Green Guide so I purchased the Eyewitness guide and am pretty unimpressed.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 07:44 AM
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Yes, you absolutely need a good map. My favorites are the Michelin maps of the scale 1:200,000. If you want even more detail get the ones of the scale 1:150,000. You do need a good guidebook too so you will know what there is to see and do in the area. I'm sure if your bookstore doesn't have The Michelin Green Guide you can check for it on Amazon or purchase it from the Michelin website.

The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, megaliths, designated scenic roads and many other things. Usually when I'm exploring various regions in France I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting and scenic drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists.

While the Loire isn't the most scenic place to drive in France it is not at all un-scenic (is that a word?). If you use the tips I just gave you I'm sure you will find some very pleasant drives in the area. Aside from the famous châteaux in the area some nice towns to visit are Blois, Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chinon, Loches (really like Loches), Langeais, Montrésor, Candes-Saint-Martin and the neighboring town of Montsoreau. Near the latter two towns you should also visit The Abbey of Fontevraud, where Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart and Henri II of England are all buried. I've never been to Angers or Saumur but they are supposed to be nice as well.

You can buy the Michelin maps from their website and here is a link to the page that shows all of the maps of France: http://tinyurl.com/4bt96ev

And speaking of Michelin, you can go to the website viamichelin.com and get info on drive times and distances, toll and fuel costs and suggested routes (i.e. scenic routes). The drive times given do not consider stops (fuel, food, bathrooms) nor do they consider bad weather and traffic.
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