I would recommend Tours, for the simple reason that it is more central to the Loire Valley and the chateaux, assuming of course that is your reason for visiting the Loire Valley.
Here is my list of possible bases for those visiting the Loire Valley:
1. The Cheval Blanc in the small village of Bléré, between Chenonceau and Tours. Bléré is much quieter and less touristy than Amboise. This hotel/restaurant changed hands in early 2008 with the long-time owners retiring. Under the new owners, (Hélène et Fabrice Tavernier) the service is reportedly much more efficient but their culinary reputation is yet to be established. During the week (Tuesday to Friday) two courses (entrée and main dish) are €22 with a €7 supplement for dessert. Despite a change of owners, I still find this location worth considering as a place to base oneself.
2. Personally I enjoy staying in the center of Tours, it's central to all of the châteaux of the valley and there are plenty of restaurants, cafés, museums, and shopping for everyone's taste. There are a number of chambres d'hotes (B&Bs) in Tours as well as outside of town.
For a complete list of area's lodging possibilities, check here:
My favorite hotel in Tours is (with free parking):
Hotel du Manoir :
2, rue Traversière
3. Between Blois and Tours
Auberge de Launay
in a beautiful setting and a wonderful restaurant
4. Hostel du Roy
5. la Ferme des Berthiers
just south of Tours in a very homey setting
6 Near Chenonceaux:
Le Bon Laboureur
For a truly unique wine tasting experience, contact Phillipe Oudin and ask to visit his winery and cave. The cave was itself an important source of limestone used in the construction of many of the areas famous châteaux. I find particularly interesting his Cabernet Franc selections:
shhhhhhh The more tourists go to Amboise, the nicer the Loire Valley is for the rest of us :¬) Besides, judging by the weight of comment here about Amboise no-one who didn't know the place would believe it's a small town.
I would go for somewhere no-one has heard of. That's why I live where I do; it makes me look independent minded, windswept and interesting.
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