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Would welcome any suggestions for my itinerary

Would welcome any suggestions for my itinerary

Dec 29th, 2009, 05:44 PM
  #1  
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Would welcome any suggestions for my itinerary

We are planning a trip to France the last 1/2 of September. We currently are thinking of taking a train from CDG to Tours. We'll spend the balance of the 1st day seeing what we can of Tours. The following 2 days we'll spend seeing some of the chateaux, probably by organized tour (yes, I know, it's best to drive, but it's not a possibility for us). High on our list of chateaux are: Chenonceau, Azay le Rideau, and Chambord. The group tours usually schedule several stops -- would welcome comments about these chateaux and/or any others we should put on our list. We enjoy both architecture and gardens. An alternate thought to staying in Tours would be Amboise, as we note that organized tours to other chateaux are also available from Amboise and, from what I've read on this forum, many people find Amboise more interesting and/or charming than Tours. Whether one or the other cities would be more convenient from CDG and for our next destination, I don't know. Any advice would be appreciated.
From Tours (or Amboise) we were thinking of going to Dijon for 2 nights, then back to Paris. Then we would have 10 days in Paris, taking day trips to Malmaison, Fontainebleau, Chartres, and Giverny. We've been to Paris twice before, so have previously seen what are considered the major sites of Paris (and Versailles, Vaux le Vicomte, and Chantilly).

Any opinions be greatly welcomed. Thanks!
aimeep is offline  
Dec 29th, 2009, 06:34 PM
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I absolutely love Chartes -- a day trip from Paris, though we always spend the night. I enjoy sitting in the plaza at night and looking at the Cathedral lit up from outside. There is also an impressive Protestant church in Chartres that is little visited.
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Dec 29th, 2009, 07:45 PM
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AphraBehn - I've been to Chartres once before, many years ago, but just to see the cathedral, so I'm really looking forward to seeing the city. Any suggestions for a good place for lunch?
aimeep is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 08:35 AM
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My advice is to choose Tours if you prefer an active city (albeit with a charming center) and Amboise if you prefer charm and ambiance in a smaller setting. My preference is Amboise.

Amboise is probably more difficult to reach from CDG, at least via the fast train (TGV), meaning you might have to go into Tours first and then transfer to a local train. But check the French rail website, voyages-sncf.com, for details and schedules.

The same goes for Dijon – it is a nice town, but too bustling for me. I like to visit but prefer to stay in Beaune, about 45 minutes south, as it oozes charm and is plenty lively for my tastes.
Geonev is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 10:00 AM
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Geonev - thanks for the advice. Since we'll be in Paris for half of our time (with daytrips), I'm thinking maybe Amboise would be a nice change, since we can still do the chateau tours -- will check the train schedule to see how the timing works. We don't usually experience much in the way of jet lag, so a little more travel time probably won't bother us.
From posts I've read here Dijon appeals to us. We'd initially thought of Lyon and are still considering it.
aimeep is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 12:35 PM
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Geonev - reading about Beaune after your suggestion. It looks great. We may try to do a 1/2 day trip there from Dijon if that would be sufficient time to see enough to justify the trip. If that amount of time is much too little, we'll probably put it on our list for next time. Suggestions?
Thanks again.
aimeep is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 12:38 PM
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Half-day is fine for Beaune.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 30th, 2009, 01:02 PM
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Aimee, I like your plan.I would add Villandry to your list of castles. It has a very beautiful and original garden.
See http://www.frenchgardening.com/visit...31106784011481
valtor is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 01:32 PM
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Stu - thanks for the info on Beaune -- I think we will do a 1/2 day in Beaune. Valtor - thanks for the french garden website! Villandry looks great. Will try to work it in.
aimeep is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 05:19 PM
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Tours is a city while Amboise is a small, charming town based primarily on tourism. I much prefer the latter if you can get to the chateaux you want from there. (We used a car so getting around wasn't an issue and we stayed in a private chateau near Chinon.)
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 05:58 PM
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nytraveler - yes, there is a tour company that offers tours from both Tours and Amboise. I'm really leaning toward Amboise as it would be a different experience from Paris and even Dijon.
aimeep is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 07:58 PM
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Azay did nothing for us, I'd replace it with Villandry----fabulous gardens. Chenonceau and Chambord were outstanding, but the one we remember the most was Villandry.
TPAYT is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 08:37 PM
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If you are interested to see a sound and light show at one of the castles, you have to check the timetable, as in September there are not every evening and not at all castles.
We visited the Loire Valley in 2002 in september, we stayed at Blois and saw the L&S show at Blois castle. It was interesting, it presents the history of the France and of the castle.
I remember that the timetable in internet was not correct, you have to ask at the castle, as they make changes based on the visitors number.
valtor is offline  
Dec 30th, 2009, 09:03 PM
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>>Azay did nothing for us, I'd replace it with Villandry----fabulous gardens. <<

I agree - been to both at least 3 times.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 31st, 2009, 07:28 AM
  #15  
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TPAYT and Stu - We will add Villandry to our list. We'll probably be signing up for 2 tours and between both I believe we'll be able to see all the ones I mentioned in my original post plus Villandry and maybe Blois. Our trip is still almost 9 months away and I'm already excited. Fortunately I enjoy the planning stage as well as the actual travel. It's fun to get ideas from other people's trip reports and feedback from people who've already been where you're thinking of going.
Thanks.
aimeep is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 01:48 PM
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Am rethinking our planned 2 days in Dijon because my husband really wants to do a D-Day tour. We may instead go to Bayeaux so he can do that and have one day to see what we can of Bayeaux. One whole day would be taken up with the D-Day tour. But if we did this, would you suggest we spend the whole second day in Bayeaux? Or see something else, either by joining a tour or taking public transportation to another town, such as Honfleur?

Also, would Dijon be a practical choice for a day trip from Paris?

Thanks for any advice.
aimeep is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:20 PM
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I think you are entering the "all over the map" phase of your planning. You've already got a week in Paris if I read your posts correctly, plus you want to do what sounds like at least one, maybe two days in the Loire, plus Dijon or Beaune. And now Normandy?

Uh uh. I would forget Dijon/Beaune for this trip, spend a week in Paris, then go to the Loire for two days, then on to Normandy for 3. And I would rent a car (why is that not a possibility for you?). If you can't rent a car, figure out an itinerary that limits the all-day tours and takes best advantage of trains between the places you want to visit. Bayeux is certainly a good place to spend an entire day - it's gorgeous and it's got the tapestry and cathedral and a lovely old quarter to walk around. Honfleur is worth a full day, too. You don't need tours or guides for either of those places. It's perfectly do-able to tour them on your own.

Essentially, I think, no matter what places you plan to visit, you need to plan a "loop itinerary" to avoid backtracking and make the best use of trains.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:52 PM
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StCirq: My thought was to drop the 2 days in Dijon, and substitute the trip to Normandy. We have 10 nights scheduled in Paris and, since we were thinking of several day trips out of Paris, and thought we might substitute a daytrip from Paris to Dijon for one of the previously planned daytrips, if we would be able to see enough in a daytrip to Dijon to make it worth the trip. But I'm guessing we'll save Dijon for another time, as there are more close in daytrips we want to take.

Driving is out now because I can't drive due to a vision issue and my husband refuses to consider it. Believe me I have worked on him and I hope he'll change his mind in the months ahead, but at this point he won't.
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