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What is good base for visiting the Loire Valley?

What is good base for visiting the Loire Valley?

Old Mar 12th, 2010, 07:06 AM
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What is good base for visiting the Loire Valley?

I might have the opportunity to visit the Loire Valley and would rent a car for sightseeing. However, I don't want to unpack and repack, changing hotels every night. Does anyone have a good suggestion for a base in the area? I don't like B&Bs, but otherwise I'm open to any suggestions for hotels and locations.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 07:10 AM
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Amboise or Blois make a good base for the eastern Loire, and Saumur or Angers make a good base for the western part. Depends on how much time you want to spend in the area.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 07:13 AM
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Amboise IMO is the perfect base - nice old town on a scenic stretch of the Loire and a short enough drive from Chenonceau, Chambord, Blois, Azay-le-Rideau, Vouvray, etc. And it has its own great chateau - hovering high above the Loire. Plus there is Leonardo da Vinci old house - now a museum to his inventions and life and troglodyte houses built into the chalk cliff behind the chateau. If you want you can rent bikes and cycle the 10 miles or so thru a forest to Chenonceau - probably the most well known of all the Loire chateaus
Amboise has many neat hotels, including the famous Chateau de Pray (?), on the Loire just down from the chateau.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 07:56 AM
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hi jahlie,

we've stayed in both Saumur and Amboise and as a centre, and place to stay, we preferred Saumur. it's less touristy, lots of nice restaurants and shops, and has good access to many of the places you'll want to go.

if you're going for a week, you could spend a few days in both and decide for yourselves whether Pal or I are right!
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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If you're going to be there for more than a few days, think about basing in or around Chinon. It's a terrific town itself, plus it's right in between the well-traveled sites to the east and towns like Saumur and Angers to the west.

Get out a map and you'll see what I mean.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 08:50 AM
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We stayed in a private chateau near Chinon and loved it. A fantastic experience. And driving to the ajor chateaux wasn't much of a chore - distances aren;t great and trvle is esy as long as you have a car.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 09:22 AM
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What about Tours? It looks to be centrally located and is supposed to be a very nice city. There is a lot to see within a day's drive and it's right on the river. Any thoughts?
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 10:07 AM
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I would say no on Tours. Too big, too much traffic. In fact you do not want to be driving by enroute to chateaux, that is why most will recommend both an east and west home base.

Amboise and Blois (east-of Tours) make good home bases for visiting Michelin 3 star chateaux Chenonceau, Chambord, Cheverny, and Blois, also 2 star Amboise, Chaumont, and Loches. We have stayed in both and highly recommend Le Vieux Manoir
www.le-vieux-manoir.com in Ambois and Relais des Landes in Ouchamps near Blois http://www.relaisdeslandes.com/hotel...-hotel-01.html.

Chinon and Samur (west-of Tours) make good home bases for visiting Michelin 3 star chateaux Azay andVillandry, also 2 star Chinon, Usse, Langeais, Samur, and Fontevaud Abbey. We stayed at Hostellerie Gargantua (but it is not for everyone) http://www.hotel-gargantua.com/mainenglish.html.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 11:08 AM
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What about Tours? It looks to be centrally located and is supposed to be a very nice city. There is a lot to see within a day's drive and it's right on the river. Any thoughts?>

I have driven into and out of Tours many times - and it is often a big bouchon - bottleneck - but it is a really nice largish city with a den or nice restaurants in its old town area.

Chinon to me is the finest town in the Loire Chateau Country - would be a great base as well.

Saumur is a sweet town but it depends on which of the Loire castles you want to see - the most famous and popular ones are Chenonceau and Chambord - also arguable the most impressive (I like Azay-le-Rideau just as much) - so if those two Amboise is much much closer than Saumur - Saumur does have Champignon or mushroom-growing caves to tour - if in the area look for a Champignons sign and stop and you can go into the dark dank cave to see them growing.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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WE stayed in Anger and Blois, and visited Anger,Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry,Amboise, Chenonceau, Chambord, Blois.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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valtor, do you mean you've stayed in both at different times or both during one visit? On a map Anger looks a bit too far west and I've been to Blois but can't remember the town - only the chateaux. I'll probably only be in the area three nights and would rather see a little in depth than a lot rushed. Thus the search for one good base - someplace with easy access to fast roads, a historical atmosphere but modern enough to have good cafes, restaurants and a pedestrian area to stroll at night.

I love Chartres - the town is just about perfect for three nights, but it's too far from the rest of the Loire Valley sights. Maybe I can find something similar?

I think Saumer is also too far west. I'll look into Ambois and Tours just because of location. I haven't done much research yet and this search might be a good place to start.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 01:32 PM
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In Amboise the Manoir de Minimes is a delightful place to stay.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 01:49 PM
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JulieVikmanis,

Oh, the Manoir de Minimes looks lovely - thanks so much.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 02:03 PM
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Tours is an excellent base for visiting the Loire Valley. Have done so in the past and managed to visit many Chateaux located within 45 minutes or less (Chenonceau, Chambord, Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry...)
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 02:12 PM
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We stayed in Amboise - we really liked the location.
Manoir de la Maison Blanche is a b&b that we really liked. It is in a park like setting. I know you said you didn't care for b&bs but thought I would mention it.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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I would not stay in Tours, especially if you have only three days. The traffic getting into and out of the city can be horrible, cutting into your touring time.

Amboise is best, IMO, and there are lots of good hotel choices. If you give us a budget, we can recommend some.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 03:07 PM
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I 2nd the Chinon region as a base which we did for a week stay before a week in Normandy 4 yrs ago - v nice town and lots to see there plus close to many chateau, gardins, etc to see

stayed at a very historical gite - //lavauguyon.free.fr. 2 different gites, great english speaking host who took us exploring, 10 minutes to Chinon, etc etc.

very enjoyable area - enjoy
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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I ditto Palenque. Amboise is good and the da Vinci museum is small but very interesting. I stayed in Blois and rode a bike out to Chambord. That one and Chenonceaux are two not to be missed. I recommend the Michelin Green Guide Châteaux of the Loire as a guide.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 06:10 PM
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We stayed in Bois and found it a perfect place to go wherever in the Loire
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Old Mar 14th, 2010, 05:44 PM
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StCirq, my budget is no more than $200 per night including breakfast. It has to be pretty special for that price and I'd rather spend $125-150 per night. I don't like b&bs because I can't let myself feel free to do whatever I want in someone's home. I have to be polite, considerate and socialize - at least I feel I do. I like hotels with ambience and modern conveniences, clean, good service, and nice public areas. "Charming" is wonderful as long as it isn't a euphemism for dowdy or run down. If we can stay longer a gite might just work.

cigalechanta and spaarne - How long were you out during the day exploring the Loire? Were the roads fast? My experience driving through Provence was that the roads often took longer than expected with a lot of construction, etc. Bike rides would be great though - We'll be there in June so I'll have to consider that as well. Thanks. If you stayed in hotels you liked, what were they?
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