Touring Loire Valley

Old Jan 27th, 2003, 10:34 AM
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Touring Loire Valley

We have 4 full days to tour the valley and would like some suggestions on where to start and where to stay along the way. We'd like something very romantic and castle like. What can you all recommend?
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 10:47 AM
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Amboise makes a wonderful base for visiting the Loire, and Le Choiseul is definitely romantic and castle-like (see www.le-choiseul.com). However, if you have 4 nights, you might want to consider splitting it up into two nights in Amboise and two nights somewhere near Angers/Saumur, in the western end of the valley. If you do that, you might want to do a search for the Châteaux de Noirieux in Briollay. I haven't stayed there, but I've checked it out a couple of times and it looks lovely.
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 10:49 AM
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I recommend you consider staying in a chateau. We chose Chateau Jallanges, right outside of Tours in Vouvray. You could base yourself there and then take day trips in different directions, seeing different chateaux. It was a great experience and not all that costly. You won't want to miss Chenenceau and Chambord. Be sure to visit the wine caves. A town with a fantastic underground network of caves is Samaur.
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 11:46 AM
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I'm planning on visiting for a day, now I'm wondering if I will be missing out if I don't stay overnight. I will be in Paris a total of 8 nights, I don't think it would be a tragedy if I spent only 6 in the city and 2 in the Loire Valley. I didn't think there was enough in the Loire Valley to warrant staying more than a day. However, this is my first time in France so what do I know? Any thoughts?
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 11:50 AM
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Renee, It's a tough decision because there is obviously enough to keep you interested in Paris for that long. But, it might be nice to take an overnight break to the Loire Valley. Tours is a very short TGV ride. Rent a car there (don't drive from Paris) and stay either in a chateau (Jallanges was great) or in a town like Amboise. Then finish up in Paris for a last couple of days.
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 12:08 PM
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Thanks, Grasshopper. So, you think that I will need to rent a car? I assume that they do not have buses there?
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 12:14 PM
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Renee,<BR><BR>I almost never rent a car in Europe, but the Loire Valley is a place I can't imagine seeing without one. It gives you so much more freedom to go from one chateau to the next and to stop at some of the small wineries along the way. Part of the fun is to stop at a small family owned winery and taste their wines and try to speak in wine sign language. (or French if you can manage that, which I can't). Be sure to stop and see some of the wine caves. Samaur has a wonderful network of underground champagne cellars.
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 12:19 PM
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vanenechy<BR><BR>We stayed at the Chateau de Chissay.<BR>In a village 5kms from Chenonceau - it was a major treat. Our bathroom was in the turret. Their restaurant was vg &amp; a nearby village had others (Montrichard). Our two nights was not enough.<BR><BR>Easy driving to/from Tours &amp; other major chateaux.<BR><BR>Renee<BR><BR>A car is necessary. The TGV trip is 1 hour from Gare Montparnesse in Paris. You arrive at St Pierre-des-Corps. There is an AVIS attached to the station (available also through Rail Europe). You don't even have to drive into Tours, you can head right out into the countryside.<BR>
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 12:27 PM
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Wow, thanks for the heads up about renting the car. Will do...the thought of driving through the countryside sends chills up my spine!
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 12:28 PM
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Renee:<BR><BR>I've been to the Loire Valley a half-dozen times, on trips ranging from 4-10 days, and still haven't run out of things to see and do. Two days will barely scratch the surface. Take the train to Tours and pick up a car. There is local transportation, of course, but using it will slow you down immeasurably. If this is your first trip to France, you could easily fill up all your days in Paris, but I think if you get out into the countryside it will provide a nice contrast and introduce you to the beauty of rural France.
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Old Jan 27th, 2003, 02:10 PM
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Renee,<BR><BR>StCirq, grasshopper and the others are right about the rental car. You can see so much more and more quickly. But please keep in mind that those little glasses of wine can add up. With France's .05 blood alcohol level for impaired driving (compared to most of the US at .08,) you'll want to be VERY careful with wine tasting. <BR><BR>If you go with the rental car the TGV goes into St. Pierre de Corps which is a suburb of Tours. There are several rental car options there. These would be easier to drive away from than the ones at the train station in downtown Tours. <BR><BR>I took a couple of weeks to see the Loire valley in Spring 2001, didn't see it all, and only had a rental car for 4 days. The rest was trains. A few of the chateaux easily seen by train are Blois, Amboise, Chenonceau, Chinon, Saumur and Angers. I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I know. Chambord and most of the others are not so accessible by train. Look around for Loire castles on the net and see if a few strike your fancy, then plan your itinerary from that. If massive Chambord is a must then get the car. But if the historic Blois castle and Da Vinci's last residence in Amboise interests you consider the train. <BR><BR>I think you'll do well to get out of Paris for a break with your 8 days. Yes, you can easily fill 8 days in Paris, but you could easily fill a month. You might as well get out of Paris a bit and discover early in your travels that there is more to France than Paris.
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 03:40 AM
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I agree that you might benefit by staying in two locations for 2 days each.<BR><BR>Have stayed twice in Chateau de Tertes in Onzain. You can see the castle at Chaumont from the hotel. Friendly, decent price.<BR><BR>30 yrs ago I stayed at the Chateau du Gue-Pean near Montrichard. It's a real only castle that had a few rooms available. Looked for it yesterday and couldn't find any info on a couple of websites. Learned about it from Fodor's Europe 1970.
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 07:11 AM
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Indytravel,<BR><BR>Thanks for the food for thought. Great advice. I will definitely devote two days to the Loire Valley...thanks to you and bigtyke regarding the info on the castles. sigh.....
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 03:15 PM
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stcyror some other francophile, <BR>what would you think about getting a car in paris near our hotel, and driving to the Loire countryside, or do you think taking the train to Chartres or a nearby town then picking up a car would be preferable?
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 03:22 PM
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We rented a car near Paris and drove. I wish we had taken the TGV to Tours. It saves a ton of time. The TGV is so fast and the drive wasn't that interesting.
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 03:26 PM
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So would you make Chartres a Paris day trip on a different day, and drive to Tours to begin our Loire Valley tour?<BR>
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 03:31 PM
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Sorry Wren, I haven't been to Chartres so I will difer that question to someone else.
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 03:42 PM
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Wren:<BR><BR>If you have the chance to go to Chartres, go (and take a Malcolm Miller tour if you can). And as long as you're heading to the Loire, I'd say take the train to Chartres in the morning, see the cathedral and have lunch, then pick up your car in the afternoon and continue on to the Loire. It's not bad driving out of Paris, but probably in the long run easier to pick the car up in Chartres.
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Old Jan 28th, 2003, 03:45 PM
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I saw the cathedral at Chartres as I was finishing up my Loire Valley spree in 2001. <BR><BR>I think you could do it either way. Train to Chartres in the morning, catch the Malcolm Miller tour, get the car and head on to the Loire. You could go south through Chateaudun, Chambord, Chenonceau, etc. and into Tours. You could TGV back to Paris. That way you'd avoid driving the dull autobahn.<BR><BR>The opposite way would be TGV to Tours, get you car at the St. Pierre de Corps stop, drive the opposite way through the Loire and up to Chartres. Catch the Cathedral in the afternoon and train back to Paris. There usually isn't a rental car fee to drop-off within France.<BR><BR>You'd be busy for a couple of days but you could see a lot. Personally I was a bit disappointed in Chartres. It was a dreary day when I was there and the stained glass did nothing for me. I wish I'd known about and taken the Malcolm Miller tour. Maybe it would have helped to catch a little enthusiam.
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Old Jan 29th, 2003, 02:43 AM
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My husband is really into cathedrals, so Chartres is a must...Malcolm Miller too. What we are planning is a week in Loire and Burgundy then back to Paris. I guess my main concern is driving in Paris...even just to get out of the city...I thought it would be easier at first than lugging suitcases to a train station and taking a train to an outlying area to get a car, but after reading posts, I am really concerned about driving even just to get out of Paris!!
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