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how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

NYC
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how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

Can anyone suggest the best way(s) to tour the Loire Valley for those of us non-drivers? I'd like to spend 2-4 days there. Thanks!

Paris, France
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1. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

Take the TGV to Tours and use some of the minibus tours to local sights. A list is available on the Office de Tourisme website:

http://www.ligeris.com/excursions_en.php?id=4

Here is a brochure will other tour ideas:

ligeris.com/userfiles/telechargement/calendr…

California
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2. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

You could also rent bikes and cycle around. The terrain is fairly flat.

Le Grand Pressigny...
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3. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

Or if you have a varied range of things to see not catered for by a set itinerary tour check out www.tourtheloire.com as they have a flexible approach to their service.

Tours, France
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4. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

This isn't meant to be a critique of the suggestions already offered (a tour may be perfect for you) but I'm often frustrated when *I* try to look for public transport solutions and you only find suggestions to hire a car or join a tour, neither of which are things I personally enjoy doing. This extends to the websites of most of the chateaux I've checked out, which often only provide a route map for drivers.

No doubt you can probably pack more in and have an easier time of it taking an organised tour, but just in case you also like doing things independently and you don't mind the joys and frustrations of dealing with public transport in a foreign country, here's some possible destinations.

I've visited the following chateaux/towns by train from Tours and (bearing in mind I live here and speak French) it was fairly easy to do so. Sometimes there's a little walk from the train station to the chateau/town centre, but not cross-country hikes or anything:

Amboise (Chateau d'Amboise/Clos Lucé - I am amongst those who don't recommend Le Close Lucé by the way)

Blois (Chateau de Blois - I was very pleasantly surprised by this chateau btw. Chambord can be reached from here by shuttle in high season and by local bus otherwise, but that might get a bit too fiddly to bother with unless you're really keen.)

Chinon (Chateau de Chinon plus I have done wine tasting here - a really nice little town, a favourite of mine)

Chenonceau (Chateau - train stops right outside, super easy, but check the timetables because it's not super frequent. Very impressive chateau)

Within Tours itself the cathedral is a must-see. I really enjoyed the Prieuré de Saint Cosme, which is in a suburb of Tours and can be reached by bus. If you're coming in summer, check out the guinguette (open-air café/bar/concert/dance venue) on the banks of the Loire.

This is only a list of places I've personally been to by public transport, not everywhere that can be reached by public transport. Anyway, this may be of no use to you, I just think it's a shame I don't see public transport mentioned more as an option for the Loire Valley.

Tours, France
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5. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

PS I was looking for something else and coincidentally came across a post on getting around by public transport, which is probably more useful than I just was :)

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187196-i847-k2970…

Paris, France
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6. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

I understand your point Gwan57 about using public transportation but the problem is that, while it can be done, it consumes a great deal of time. Not only are trains available for many locations, city buses can also take you to several châteaux, Chambord for instance.

Now that the Loire Valley has become very popular (I can remember a time when it was virtually unknown among non European tourists), people want to see it all without spending the time. 25 years ago I would have never speculated that there would be buses running day trips to the Loire Valley from Paris. I recommend the mini bus tours from the Office de Tourisme because they can offer a great deal of touring and destination visits to someone who only wants to spend a day or two. They are a very efficient means by which to visit the best known châteaux outside of renting a car and driving oneself.

By the way, I consider le Clos Lucé not only the most over hyped site in the Loire Valley, Amboise itself has much less to offer than many other of the valley´s locations. Amboise was once the jewel of the towns along the river, now it is simply over run with tourists.

Tours, France
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7. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

I absolutely agree that the most efficient way to see the maximum number of sights in the shortest possible time would be an organised tour. I'm just allergic to the concept of rushing around seeing 4 chateaux in a day and paying top dollar to be herded along with a tour group :) I'm a bit overly-attached to "doing my own thing" :) Of course, not all tours are like this & I realise I have the luxury of being able to take my time, but I just wanted to put it out there in case musicgal23 is like-minded. Good point about the buses, I thought it best not to comment on something I actually haven't done yet.

Edited: 16 March 2011, 20:22
Loire Valley
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8. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

We had a client last year who wanted to do something similar - he asked about a 4 day booking, but in the end we had him stay in Chenonceaux and book two days with us.

He caught the train to Chenonceaux from Paris and checked out Chenonceau Chateau the first day, then with us visited Chaumont and Cheverny on day 2, and Loches and Montpoupon on day 3.

Although doing things this way isn't budget class, ask your tour provider and if they are any good they will work with you to see if they can tailor your trip to your budget.

Of course, if you're booked on a bus you go where everyone else goes - which to my mind is usually too many places in too short a time.

9. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

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melbourne
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10. Re: how to tour the Loire Valley without a car

thank you for your information...i really appreciated your push for public transportation, as i find tours are not our style...we will be going to the loire valley in october from paris

my query is i have 3 days in paris then a day trip from paris to champagne region...return to paris

next morning travel to Loire it looks like base myself in Tours and then following day whole day in loire using public transportation then next day depart

reading the reviews i am questioning cutting out the champagne area of france to give the loire valley an x tra day....

would members agree...only reason for champagne houses was curiosity...but you can drink champagne anywhere

i have seen mention of a tgv train paris to tours 1 hour....how much can i reckon that will cost....

cheers desiree