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Day trip to Loire Valley?

Toronto, Canada
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Day trip to Loire Valley?

Hello,

My wife and I will be in Paris for a week this May and were considering taking a day trip to one of the chateaux in the Loire Valley. I have already been to Cenonceau (but wouldn't be against going again), but was wondering what are the best ways to get out there? Also, what would be considered the 'best' ones to see?

Are good bus tours operated and if so which ones should we look into? Can we take the train there, or is it a bit inconvenient?

Would a day trip to Chartres be better/easier from Paris?

Thx,

T.

Bridgewater
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1. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

The top ones are Chenenceau, Chambord, Amboise and Blois. At least these are more well known, but likely there are others just as nice. You can easily do Blois by train by Paris as a day trip--in addition to chateau you can walk around the hilly old town, tour the interesting shopping area , have a nice lunch and walk the bridge across the Loire. The others are harder to do from Paris by train on a day trip, more likely easier to do by train or bus from Tours or Blois. There are also several companies that do a day bus trip with 3 chateaus with a combo of the above 3 and lunch. Paris Vision is one that comes to mind. Can't remember the others but you can likely find them by blog. I've done this and its a very nice, but long, day trip. Chartres is an easy day trip, but a different venue--cathedral instead of chateau. Fontainebleau and Chantilly are also great day train trips from Paris with their outstanding chateaus and interesting old small town atmosphere.

Virginia
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2. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

Hi:

We just returned from our first trip to France, which included eight days in Paris and six days and five nights in the Loire Valley. We rented a car for the Loire portion of our trip; we picked it up in Chartres and returned it in Amboise. Without a car, I think that you would be best to find a day-trip by bus, since getting to and from any chateau(s) from a train station will probably be inconvenient and pricey. We saw six chateaux while there, and it's almost impossible to pick the "best," although we certainly loved Chenonceau, Villandry (whose gardens will be spectacular in May), Azay-le-Rideau, and Cheverny. Chambord is truly amazing, as well, with spectacular forests and wildlife surrounding the chateau itself.

There is no question that a day trip to Chartres would be easier (logistically) from Paris. The fare is inexpensive (I recall it being less than $20 US each), the trip is just about an hour, and Chartres is very "do-able" on foot. In fact, a car is a hindrance in Chartres, in my opinion. You will love the Cathedral and the city of Chartres itself. If you can manage it, try to take one of Malcolm Miller's tours of Chartres; he is amazing (if more than a little eccentric).

Hope this helps.

Paris, France
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3. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

You may want to rethink this dulac3.

The Loire Valley is just too far for a "day trip" (although I have done the reverse to spend the day in Paris). I am sure someone will want to explain how he left Paris and saw Chambord and returned to Paris all in a day but consider that:

1. It's a 2 hour drive minimum each way to the closest chateau from Paris and that's assuming you have a car already and known the route you need to take.

2. Trains are a little faster but then there is the problem of reaching different sites once you reach the Loire Valley.

3. The Chateaux are in the countryside and not really located that close to one another. It takes time to travel from one to the next. Also, depending the time of year, most are closed by 5 p.m. so you'd need a really early start to see much.

Alternatively you could take a train to Tours, spend the night and book one of the tours buses the next day. Information should be available on the Tours website at:

http://www.ligeris.com/

Or visit Chantilly, Versailles, or Fontainebleau, an easy day trip from Paris.

Ohio, USA
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4. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

I agree with everything Sarastro has said. Yes, Chartres would be a much easier day trip, as would the other places Sarastro mentions, to which I would add Vaux-le-Vicomte and Écouen for their châteaux and Sceaux for its park.

Bridgewater
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5. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

Generally agree with Sarastro and the above, but:

If time is limited, it is quite easy to do a guided bus day tour to Loire with 3 chateaus--I've done it several times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Leaving Paris around 8 am, Chambord is usually the first and reached B4 noon. Then lunch in Amboise and the chateau there. Then Chenonceau later in the afternoon and back in Paris around 7-8 pm. There's ample time to see the chateaus, probably an hour or so, not a lot, but better than never. The chateau in Blois is right in the center of town (not in the country) and an easy walk from the train station.

Chenonceau train station is a close walk to the chateau, but not an easy connection from Paris.

I don't agree that Chatres is a replacement for chateaus and Loire valley. Its a cathedral town not a chateau town (I happen to be partial to chateaus, and most cathedrals look pretty much the same to me). Chantilly and Fontainebleau (chateau towns) are much better alternates to the Loire valley IF you're interested in chateaus.

Virginia
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6. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

Hi:

Just to clarify: I didn't mean to leave the impression that a day trip to Chartres is a "replacement" for a visit to chateaux in the Loire area. However, if you have just one day, and if you decide against a bus tour to the Loire, a visit to Chartres is a wonderful alternative and is a logistically easier - and less expensive - choice. I have to disagree that all cathedrals are the same; I have visited many, many churches and cathedrals over the years and find each of them different and inspiring. Tthe stained glass windows at Chartres are simply beautiful - there is nothing like "Chartres blue." And the history of the cathedral and the city of Chartres is very, very interesting. So, while they are indeed very different and not replacements for one another, you should certainly consider them both as worhwhile day-trip options.

Toronto
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7. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

>> I am sure someone will want to explain how he left Paris and saw Chambord and returned to Paris all in a day

Yes... been there, done that. Got a rental car at the Louvre. Wasted an hour heading the wrong direction on the autoroute, another 1/2 hour asking for direction at a rest stop, and still managed to come back to Paris by 8 pm, with a leisurely tour of Chambord.

Bridgewater
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8. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

Asking for help: I didn't mean to imply that all cathedrals ARE in fact the same, it's just that's the way they tend to apeal to me because my interest doesn't lie so much in that direction. But for someone who is really into cathedrals (as it seems you are), Chartres would be a fine trip. But if more interested in chateaus maybe less of a first trip choice. However, Chartres is certainly worthwhile and I myself have enjoyed and would enjoy that trip again also.

Lawndale, California
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9. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

Hi Dulac. I'd have to agree with the other posters here that it's difficutl to do the Loire Valley as a day trip. When my partner and I visited in November 2005, we made it a two-day trip -- took the train to Tours in the morning, picked up a rental car, visted Villandry and ate in a quaint little town on the route, stopped by Azay-le-Rideau, then checked into our hotel (actually, we stayed at the Cheateu de Brou, which we HIGHLY recommend). Next day we drove to Chenonceau, then Cheverny, and the Chambord, with a return drive to Tours and the train back to Paris. It was a FULL two days, but the driving in the countryside was beautiful and the chateaux were incredible. Also, there's a website you can go to for driving directions in the region. It's much like Mapquest -- you can punch in the location where you're starting and ending, and it maps out a route for you. We had such routes for each leg of our trip between chateaux and it helped immensely. But the routes are also very well marked with directions to each of the chateaux, so being armed with a good map would likely be more than enough.

Worcester, MA
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10. Re: Day trip to Loire Valley?

Hi Dulac3--Forget trains and cars and DO go to the Loire Valley with the Paris Visions tour company. We took a one day trip two years ago and it was great. Saw 3 chateaux and had a lovely lunch in a country inn. At the rest stop on the way back buy sandwiches and drinks to eat on the bus because you'llget back around 9:00 and will be very tired. This tour starts early but for a one day trip it covers a lot with an excellent guide. Paris Visions is located on rue de Rivoli in the vicinity of the Tuilerie Gardens. A large gold statue of Joan of Arc is in front of the PV office. Enjoy!