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Visiting the Loire Valley

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Aaron W, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. Aaron W

    Aaron W Well-Known Member

    I'm considering a trip to France this fall. If I do make the trip, I'm anticipating about 4-5 nights in Paris, a night or two in Normandy, and a couple nights in the Loire Valley. For those of you who have visited the Loire Valley, any recommendations on the best castles visit, the best cities and/or villes to wander about, and the best vineyards to enjoy delicious wines? Also, how easy would it be to coordinate travel between different areas? Do trains connect the best spots to visit? Or would a vehicle be a necessity? Perhaps it's better to find a good tour group that can plan/organize everything? FWIW, I can somewhat read French (took French throughout high school + a few classes in college), but my ability to speak it and especially to understand spoken French is rather limited.
  2. Tak

    Tak Well-Known Member

    I havent been to the Loire, but I think a wine tour might be the best for exploring vineyards, if you can find one. You want to sample the wines [or what's the point of the visit, right?] It's probably not a good idea to drive after that, and having to deal with local transport might not be so good either. We went on a wine tour in California, and I was glad we could just get back on the bus and relax between winery stops. :nopryde:
  3. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    My first trip to France decades ago was just what you've described but on a student bus tour. I loved the chateaus and my dream trip now is a boat tour through the Loire Valley. I would reccommend a tour of some kind to get an overview of the area before tryong to plan a trip yourself. It's much easer and more enjoyable to let someone else deal with the logistics of lodging and transportation the first time to an area that you don't know. Unless you can find a native friend will to act as tour guide, of course. :)

    Check out a couple of the tour company websites for listsof the high points. Great European Tours has some really nice tripsand Viking River Cruises covers central Europe pretty well.

    In Normandy Mont St. Michel is worth a day by itself. Don't miss the Normandy beaches and memorial, but I'd recommend going on a sunny day. Seeing all those crosses in gloomy weather would be too much for me.
  4. fsfann

    fsfann Well-Known Member

    Oh my... I spent a summer in that area (Normandy, Brittany, Loire Valley) about 15 years ago.

    My favourite chateaus were: Chenonceau and Chambord...

    I would highly recommend a day at Mont St. Michel, and I wouldn't visit the area without a stop in St. Malo!! Beautiful little town! =)
  5. Lyinna

    Lyinna Member

    I visit the loire Valley a few years ago. The castles are all beautiful and different. Chenonceau and Chambord are definitely the two must important but Amboise is nice too and that's where Leonardo Da Vinci died (or near). In all the cities you have nice hotel/good food/good wine.
    A car is definitely a good thing, because when you drive on little road you can see smaller castle in the woods and animals. Don't know about the trains but I guess that vineyards don't have their own station so that might be difficult to reach them.
    I bet that everybody speaks english because it's a very touristic place.
  6. skategal

    skategal Bunny slave

    We spent an overnight in Chenonceau and spent the day visiting the Chateau there. We took the train right to it from Paris...there is a little train station right in front of the Chateau. But I would recommend a car if you were touring the area as it is difficult to get to many of the Chateaus by train.

    You will love it there...it's so beautiful. I am hoping we will go again sometime and explore more of the area.