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Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

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Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

Firstly thank you to all who helped with suggestions on my previous post. I would be very grateful if you have any comments on my proposed itinerary below, let me know if you think that I am missing something, or there would be a better way to organise.....

Recap - Am visiting Loire first week in April and staying in Onzain. Have 3 children 8,5 and 1.

Day 1 - travel from Calais (does anyone know of a good stop off point on the way down from Calais?)

Day 2 - Chenonceau and trip on river

Day 3 - Visit Saumar - Cadre Noir then to Les Caves de Marston for lunch. Then travel to St Hilaire St Florent for Musee de Champignon and vineyard Louis de Grenville.

Day 4 - Day in Blois, maybe walkling tour round town, market, chateaux

Day 5 - Villandry, Azay (not inside), Poire Tapees a l'ancienne, then Usse.

Day 6 - Cheverny, Max Vauche chocolatier, then drive through Sologne (any ideas on areas welcome here)

Day 7 - Zoo de Beauval

Thanks!

Jess

California
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1. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

Blois is a picturesque village with a somewhat interesting small chateau and a shopping area, however, I'd suggest you concentrate on visiting the Chateau Chambord (a truly magnificient structure) --- its in the same general area and you could make a short stop to Blois on the way in or out.

As for Chateau Usse; I can't begin to tell you how disappointed we were (2 kids,2 adults), after going way out of our way to get there, only to find that this so-called, Disney "inspiration for the movie Sleeping Beauty" was better seen as a photo than in person. Since our visit, I've come to learn that several others castles also claim to be Disney's 'inspiration' as well. Its true that while approaching the castle, it appears fantasy-like but that soon gives way to reality after entering. They aren't bashful about charging a hefty entry fee with no warning that your visit is confined to a 'very limited' area of this 'occupied' castle. You're allowed to climb a tower which leads to a semi-exterior walkway where the only attraction is looking through windows at several department store dummies, dressed in medeival garb (Sleeping Beauty? -- I think not). There is a little access to another wing with a less than impressive museum. All-in-all , a big waste of time.

Loire Valley
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2. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

1: Unless you're mad, you will be using the Autoroute for this trip. The route takes you through Rouen, but don't be tempted to stray off the main road to stop off there - that will add at least two hours onto your trip. Instead, stay on the road for another hour until you reach the Aire du Haras. Or you can stay on the road another hour and stop at the Aire de la Dentelle d'Alençon.

Hint: When in Rouen, follow the road signs to le Mans, NOT the route every sat nav/navigation website gives you. http://tinyurl.com/rouen-route it the route to use. (note for everyone: this is why I recommend google maps for route planning - you can edit the route by doing click and drag. Making clunky old sites like via-michelin do this route is slow and laborious and nigh on impossible)

Day 3: the Cadre don't have any riding shows on the week youre there, so just warn the kids they may not even see any horses. (they probably will - but promise them horses and they don't see any, you could be the worst mother on earth. ever :¬))

Day 5, I would visit the inside of Azay le Rideau (I assume you mean this chateau and not Azay le Ferron) and the outside of Villandry, keeping the day down to 2 chateaux.

Apart from that, just be prepared to do things in a completely different order, just in case...

Simon

http://daysontheclaise.blogspot.com/

Saumur
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3. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

Although there's no actual Carrousel at the Cadré Noir during that week, it's always possible to visit the écuries (stables). It's the Caves de Marson for lunch, and the wine tour is Louis de Grenelle.

St. Hilare St. Florent is literally a stone's throw from Saumur, so not alot of travelling to be done there.

You're also doing a fair bit of 'zig-zagging' around. The vast majority of your itinerary is centered beyond Tours, yet you come all the way back to Saumur for the Cadré Noir and wine visit?

Personally, I'd 'do' the mushroom museum at the other end of town, set high in the cliffside with magnificent views over the river. I'd also recommend the wine tour at Gratien & Meyer, not too far away. Again, set in the cliffside. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy on the terrasse overlooking la Loire. These two visits then give you the opportunity to visit Montsoreau, with it's beautiful chateau, right on the river's edge. The village is well worth exploring too, for its troglodyte dwellings. Then possibly onwards to l'Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud. This is the resting place of Ricahrd the Lionheart, and others.

Blois, France
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4. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

I would try and group days 4 and 6 together as they are all centered close to Blois although as you are staying in Dugny it wont make to much difference as you have planned day trips returning at the end of each day.

Day 4- Perhaps head out to Chambord in the morning and return to explore Blois in the afternoon. The walking tour of the city is good fun and you can collect the map from the tourist information office opposite the Chateau.

Day 5- The Max Vauché chocolaterie is a great idea and the 1hr tour is worth doing. Romorantin-Lanthenay is the biggest town in the Sologne and the museum is worth a visit if you have time.

The zoo at Beauval is also a really good day out.

If the weather is really good I am sure you are going to want to make time and use the water park and other activities at Dugny instead of filling your week with lots of sight-seeing (and of course take a break from driving).

Blois, France
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5. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

Should of put Day 6 not Day 5.

Le Grand Pressigny...
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6. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

Second the Beauval recommendation. Friends who have lived in the Loire Valley for 12 years and have 'done' most of the Loire Valley family days out have just been with children 11 and 6, have recommended I take my children aged 5 & 7 as it was the best zoo or animal park they had ever been too.

Paris, France
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7. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

Of the châteaux listed on day 5, Azay le Rideau is the only one with an inside worth visiting. A drive by Ussé might suffice.

Day 6 - Cheverny is a good choice but do NOT miss Château de Chambord nearby. I consider it the most interesting overall and makes an excellent choice with which to end your visit.

uk
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8. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

Hi I would also make sure and visit Amboise it is very pretty. Here is a link to my site there are photos of some of the places on it. It also links to my flikr account with ore photos. www.caravnrentalfrance.co.uk Are you staying at domaine de dugny if so its great for kids, but not to full on like some of the larger siblu/eurocamps. If so there are photos of that site as well. My girls like the usse castle they could relate to the sleeping beauty aspect more than some of the other castles, although I admit it was very basic in comparison to the others. There is also village about 45mins away which claims to be the prettiest in france . Some of my photos are of this place. It has a nice walk through it anlong a marked river path. I will find out its name and post back later.

UK
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9. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

I want to thank everyone so much for all their comments and ideas, and I will definately take them into account and amend my itinary accordingly. When I come back I will post and let you all know how it went!

Jess

10. Re: Loire Valley with kids - Itinerary comments please?

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