To Loire or not to Loire: Need advice!

Old Mar 14th, 2013, 12:04 AM
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To Loire or not to Loire: Need advice!

Hi all. I am taking my first trip to France in June with my family of six (four children ages 10-18). We will have 6.5 days in Paris. Prior to that, we have 4 days in London, and after Paris, 3 days in Switzerland. My current itinerary is:

Day 1) Arrive in Paris by Eurostar from London early afternoon; spend rest of it exploring the city.

Day 2) Paris sights.

Day 3) Day trip to Normandy by train with guided tour of various WWII sites.

Day 4) Versailles with bicycle tour.

Day 5) Paris sights.

Day 6) Day trip to Loire Valley via TGV to see Chambord and Chenonceau.

Day 7) Paris sights.

My dilemma is this: Should we do the day trip to the Loire valley on Day 6 or should we instead stay in Paris, giving us 4.5 days in the city versus 3.5 days if we go to the Loire. This being my first time to Paris, the last thing I want to do is "over schedule" our trip and thus not get to truly experience the pulse and feel of Parisian life. We don't want to rush around to see as much of the museums and sights as we can everyday (though I personally wouldn't mind it); as a family we'd like to meander about, enjoy the cafes, my girls want to shop, etc. On the other hand, I have heard from many that the Loire is not to be missed and it's relatively easy to get there by TGV (1 hour). I have reserved a private minibus tour that will take us to those two chateaux (I don't want to try to see more than that or it will be a blur).

Any advice from you seasoned travelers?
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 01:31 AM
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I been to both of those chateaux. As you know the TGV to Tours is a relatively fast trip and if you have reserved a private means of getting to the two locations that is good. Be aware that both may be quite crowded because they are, and for good reason, very popular destinations.

Are they worth taking a day away from Paris to see? They are, IMO, just as worthwhile as the Normandy beaches but that is obviously subjective.

There will be people who will tell you that there are "so many things to see and do in Paris" that they could spend years there. That's nice...for them. Don't go on any guilt trips; this is your trip, not theirs.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 02:47 AM
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I think 3 days out of Paris is too many from a total of 6 days. I would have many more things to see/do in Paris.

Separately, i fyou have reserve these in advance you run into the problem of potential bad weather (it is very unlikely you will get a week in Paris without some rain) - so make sure you can move these day trips around.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 03:23 AM
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Is the OP happy with seeing just some of the things in Paris?
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 04:22 AM
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We took our first trip to France this past September for a week and took time to do a day trip to the Loire Valley and one to Giverny. Would I have liked more time in Paris? Of course, but I don't regret taking the time to go to the Loire Valley - absolutely loved it! If anything I'd dump the day trip to Versailles. But that's me... Chenonceau was wonderful.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 04:33 AM
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I would have recommended to take a full tour as planned by you meaning include loire in your plan but with 4 kids with you i guess it would be a hectic journey in the end its better to stay in paris and spend your time there.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 05:08 AM
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I would take the Loire trip. I think the kids might enjoy a day out in the country. They are old enough not to make it hectic, IMO.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 06:09 AM
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I have heard from many that the Loire is not to be missed

I can give you a dozen destinations in France that are not to be missed. With 6 days in France, you´ll miss most of them. You already have two day trips and each trip with 6 people requires timing, organization, and a lot of effort.

The TGV from Montparnasse to Tours Centre departs early at 07h16, arrives Tours Centre at 08h28 which is just sufficient time to walk across the street for the mini bus tours would depart from the Office de Tourisme at 09h00. The tours typically last until about noon, you could spend the afternoon visiting central Tours, Place Plumereau, find a place for lunch along rue Colbert. But with a trip already planned to Versailles and Normandy, your plate is already very full for only 6 days. I would save the Loire Valley for a return trip. You´ll not deplete all that Paris has to offer in the time you are there.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 07:48 AM
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Well, you know yourself and your family, and I don't, but personally I would go nuts knowing I was going to have to pack up and leave Paris every other day for some big excursion elsewhere, especially when you have only 6 days and so much of Paris will be left unexamined.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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Personally, I think it's at least one too many day trips out of 6.5 days, but that's not to say it isn't a worthy destination. I've been twice, but in each case we stayed in Paris for 4+ days (9 on one occasion), and also spent several days and overnights in the Loire (once with and once without our kids).

Can you leave it flexible? I have a feeling you'll find that the day before will be the best day to decide whether you want to go or stay.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 08:57 AM
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I agree, too many day trips for only 6 days. I personally would drop the Normandy day, but it's up to you to decide which is most interesting to you -- WWI battle sites or big old stone houses for rich people.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 12:45 PM
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Thank you everyone for the advice!! I think I am leaning on not doing the Loire, mainly because as StCirq said, I think it will dilute the overall experience if I knew that every other day I had to pack up early in the morning to go somewhere else.
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Old Mar 15th, 2013, 08:38 AM
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I think you have too many day trips too if you do three in six days as well. By the way, have you thought of substituting the Loire day trip for Versailles? They are all great chateaux, but personally I vastly preferred the experiences of seeing Chambord and Chenonceau to Versailles. Versailles was unbelievably crowded the day I was there to the point that I couldn't even enjoy it. I did enjoy the gardens, but I honestly only spent about 20 minutes in the chateau because it was too crowded for me.
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