Trip to Loire Valley

Jan 13th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Trip to Loire Valley

I'm going to Paris and the Loire valley in March with some friends. We'll be there about 8 days and will spend 2 days in Paris, so will have 5-6 days in the Loire valley.

I see it's very easy to take the train to from Paris to any of the major cities in the Loire Valley (Anger, Tours, Orleans). Once there, is it easy to get from the city to the chateau?

What chateaux would you recommend? I'm very interested in Usee and Chambord. Are these worthwhile or woud you suggest others? We are planning on doing one city/chateaux per day.

Any other suggestions?
clbtx1 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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One more thing! Any recommendations on places to stay in the Loire Valley?

Thanks again!
clbtx1 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:14 AM
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Easy to get to the chateaux from the 3 cities you mentioned by car or by train?

By car yes. By train it depends upon which ones you want to see.
indytravel is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:28 AM
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I also like Chenonceau, Amboise, Azay le Rideau, Chinon, Angers, Chambord, Villandry.

I liked staying at Hotel du Bon Laboureur in Chenonceaux

And also have a look at

When I went I stayed with 3 star hotels and was never dissatisfied.

I used the Michelin Green Guide as one of my reference books, and Michelin maps for getting around (I had a car)
Hope this helps,

Michel_Paris is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:29 AM
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I went with a tour company out of Tours to Chenonceau and Amboise.
We had an option of doing a half day or a full day - I did the half day, and it was a good amount of time.
We got it through the tourist office and booked directly through them.

Amboise was great because we got to visit the Leonardo de Vinci museum

Here are the Chenonceau and Amboise websites.

FYI - If you can, check out the town of Blois, it is really beautiful and a short trip from Paris. Hope this helps!
lizzy458 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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We're trying to decide if we need to rent a car. If we need to take the train to one of these cities and then rent a car, we're open to that. Thanks.
clbtx1 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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You'll have a lot more flexibility with a car. I'd recommend you take the TGV tou Tour, pick up a car there and then split your time in the Loire by spending a couple of nights in the Blois/Amboise area, then move west to the Angers/Saumur area. You could stop at Chartres to see the cathedral on the way back to Paris, drop off the car there and take the train back into the city.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 13th, 2005, 09:42 AM
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Ok the info about the car helps.

You said friends so I'm assuming a minimum of 3 people. Three is about the break even point for a rental car. For 1 or 2 a train is cheaper for 3 or more the car becomes reasonable. 3 days is also the minimum rental at places like autoeurope where you can get a better deal on rental cars.

I mention this because if you're going to rent a car, I'd rent it in Paris and drive. It's not that far to the Loire Valley especially in March when the traffic won't be horrendous like it can be in August. Why add the cost of train tickets for your group just to pick up a rental car?

Other posters have had good luck renting at Paris' Gare Montparnasse and driving out of Paris. I did it once from the Louvre and wouldn't recommend doing that.

A big part of your decision will depend upon the chateaux you decide to see. You mentioned Chambord. The train doesn't go there. The train does go to Chenonceaux, Saumur, Angers, Blois and Amboise to name a few.

By the way I agree that 1 chateau per day is plenty. It's pretty easy to get chateau-ed out if you see 2 or 3 a day for a few days.

With 5 or 6 days you have a luxury many people who visit the Loire Valley don't have. That's time. Many times people only have 1 or 2 days to spend. You could spend 3 nights in the Eastern Loire to visit that area. Amboise gets a lot of positive press. You could relocate to the Western Loire for the last 3 nights. Angers is delightful. I really like Saumur and Chinon too.

There are a lot of possibilities for transportation. The car is of course the most flexible. Doing everything by train is harder.

You could do a mix of train with a shorter car rental. For example:

Day 1 Take the morning train to Amboise and spend the 1st afternoon in Amboise

Day 2 Explore Amboise more. Late in the day pick up your rental car.

Day 3 you could visit Chambord by car.

Day 4 stop at Chenonceau and Azay-le Rideau on the way to Angers.

Day 5 drive to Usse. Maybe see Saumur. Turn in your rental car you've had for 3 days.

Day 6 explore Angers where you're staying. Take a late train back to Paris.

You'll have a great time in the Loire valley. Make sure for March you check for reduced opening hours on chateaux so you don't get shut out.

indytravel is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 09:52 AM
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To see the Loire effectively you really need to rent a car. With one you have the options of staying in one of the family-owned chateaux - a fantastic experience - and see whichever chateaux you want - you can eaily do two a day if you like.

FYI, most of the chateaux are not in cities or towns - but surrounded by a small village or hamlet - which will have little to do except the chateau. There are a couple of cute towns - I esp like Amboise (Tours is too modern/industrial looking for me) and its a good place to stay if you decide not to stay in one of the chateaux/manor houses (amost all in the countryside).

By train you will be quite limited in terms of seeing things - having to use local bus services - or group tours that I believe you need to pick up either in Paris or Tours - to reach most of the chateaux.

Suggest a good local guide book to help you decide which to see (the largest, most pictuesque, interesting historically, best gardens etc.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 09:58 AM
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I strongly recommend getting a car.

With 6 days in the Loire Valley, I usually recommend staying somewhere in the Chinon area. It's an interesting place, with lots of wineries and charming villages and such, and it offers easy access to Angers, Saumur, Blois, Amboise, Tours, and about a bazillion great chateaux. Plus, Chateau d'Usse and Azay-le-Rideau (one of my faves) are within biking distance!

These pictures might help...
Don't miss's fabulous! Other very notable stops include the Apocalypse Tapestry in Angers, the gardens of Chateau Villandry, Chambord, and the towns of Amboise, Saumur and Blois.
mr_go is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 10:31 AM
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When hell freezes over and I can do this... (seems like that right now in my life...[whine whine]) There are car rental places just north of Tours (its the train stop right before one enteres Tours, the name escapes me right now) From there it appeared to be fairly effortless to get around...

My plan was to stay at La Roseraie
SuzieC is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 10:58 AM
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I had heard it is more expensive to rent a car in Paris and that it would be cheaper in Tours. Is that true? any local companies you would recommend?
monique123 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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SuzieC St Pierre des Corps is the TGV station in the suburbs of Tours.

That's where people usually rent a car if they come in on a train.
indytravel is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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Thank you all so much for such great info! My original idea was to rent a car in Paris and drive from there, but had second thoughts when I say how easy the train was. I think we may go with a car since so many people really say it's the only way. Is it hard to get automatic transmission cars there? Is it really expensive? Otherwise, I've gotta start practicing standard!
clbtx1 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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Have you considered a "French Rail n'Drive" Pass? You can get 2 days rail and 2 days car and get a discount with 2 or more people traveling together by buying the "saverpass".
Look at
Kristina is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 02:54 PM
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How many car rental places are there in St. Pierre des Corps? Are there any recommended? I'm going to the Loire valley in April? Do they pretty much all charge the same rate? Do you get pressured into adding on "extra insurance" like you do with car rentals in the U.S.?
monique123 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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Monique, the Avis car rental agency has an office IN the train station at St Pierre des Corps, with the cars parked just outside. I got the best rate by booking at www.avis.FR (rather .com) - there is an English option.

the difference on insurance b/t the US and Europe is: your US policy most likely will not cover you in Europe,therefore most people find it wise to purchase the additional insurance. You can search on this forum for very long discussions about the pros/cons of buying the optional insurance (reducing your potential expense from an accident to the least amount possible / or let your MC/Visa Gold or Platinum cover part of it).

Another well-regarded 'agency' to work through is, who works with various rental companies.
Travelnut is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 05:03 PM
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For anyone asking about accomodations, we stayed at Le Manoir les Minimes in Amboise. We rented a car at the Avis in St Pierre des Corps (our first time driving in Europe). Le Manoir les Minimes is situated just of a main road (D751?) so it was very easy to go to/from that hotel to other towns.

The hotel itself is like a very nice inn with a gravel drive, courtyard, small terrace, and huge shaggy dog. The rooms are nice and of a good size - ours had a king-size bed and was about 115€; we could look out a window and see the Chateau d'Amboise looming over us, and the river running by just across the road.
Travelnut is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 05:16 PM
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Let me add a vote for Manoir de Minimes. I loved the hotel (and the very charming Briard). Gorgeous room, elegant appointments and amenities. The lady who works the front desk in the evening gives excellent advice on restaurants and day trips.
cmcfong is offline  

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