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4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

Bend, Oregon
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4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

We are taking a whirlwind of the Loire Valley, leaving Paris early AM, overnight in Chinon. I'm guessing we should see Chenonceau, Amboise, Chambord and Cheverny. If so, in what order should we plan to see them? Do others in the community recommend something different? We are driving back to Paris the following day to catch a 14:41 train to Milan.

Suggestions and advice welcomed!

Paris, France
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1. Re: 4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

If I understand correctly, you are driving to the Loire Valley on day 1, visiting châteaux, staying the night in Chinon, and returning the following day, day 2, for a later train to Milan.

My first impression is why are you driving all the way to Chinon? It doesn´t fit with your overall plans as stated and absorbs an inordinate amount of your limited time. Why not stay near the locations you want to visit? I could list 4 or 5 excellent hotel/restaurants which would be far more convenient for you.

I would visit Chenonceau as early in the day as possible. In fact I would stay near there, visit it at the opening on day 2, and then return to Paris. The simple reason you would want to do this is that the crowds there, particularly in summer months, are horrendous. Visiting early or at the opening will offer some crowd relief. Consider this hotel for your stay which is in Chenonceaux:

http://www.bonlaboureur.com/

Other nearby possibilities:

http://lechevalblancblere.fr/

http://www.hotel-chenonceau.com/

Backing up to your day 1 arrival, I would visit Cheverny and Chambord first, they are very close together and easily done as a pair. Be sure to take time to enjoy the gardens at Cheverny and the grounds at Chambord.

Then maybe drive by Amboise. Visit the town and take a look at the château from the far side of the river. Do not feel compelled to visit inside the château, there is not really much to see and most of it was destroyed during the Revolution. The nearby Clos Lucé is another over-hyped venue that is linked to Leonardo but has absolutely nothing of his on the interior. If you really want to see a third château on day 1, and Cheverny and Chambord are plenty, then visit Château Blois which is far more interesting than is Château Amboise.

Bend, Oregon
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2. Re: 4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

This is wonderful advice and I really appreciate it! I picked Chinon based on a wonderful hotel I found there, but if that is too much to "bite off," I'll look at your suggestions.

Thank you!

Champlon, Belgium
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3. Re: 4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

Catching your train to Milan is going to be an important deadline.

Driving from, say, the centre of Blois to the centre of Paris will take an absolute minimum of two hours. However that ignores the traffic impact which could be enormous. Traffic within the peripherique can "hang" unpredictably and lunchtime is often one of the worse times, and it is unlikely that you will know your way around the jams.

I think that if you are at your morning 2 Chateaux when it opens at 9.00 (check that it does but many do), limit your visit to no more than 90 minutes and then drive straight back to Paris you will probably make your train OK, but check the precise opening hours of the car hire office (which is hopefully at the station where the Milan train departs) in case they close for lunch.

Bend, Oregon
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4. Re: 4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

Your advice is invaluable as I do want to allow plenty of time, but never seem to allow enough. And the train is, as you point out, an absolute hard start deadline. I'm going to take the other contributor's advice, too, and stay in Chenonceaux instead of Chinon. It makes good sense.

On past trips I have driven to my destinations, so taking the train is a new experience for me.

There is never enough time to enjoy beautiful France.

Thank you for your help!

Paris, France
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5. Re: 4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

If you stay in or near Chenonceaux on day 2, be at the château entrance at, or just before, 09h00. You will need to be on the road, returning to Paris by no later than 10h30 (10h00 would be better but would not allow you much time at Chenonceau). From Chenonceaux, it will take almost 3 hours to reach Gare de Lyon for your train to Milan. There can be unknown delays. Leaving Chenonceaux by 10h30 should have you at Gare de Lyon by 13h30 but know the route in advance by consulting one of these sources:

www.viamichelin.com

www.mappy.com

Check google maps, street view, in advance so you know where to drop off your car at Gare de Lyon. It is all very straight forward but prepare yourself as people can become disoriented and confused. Proper planning should preclude any problems.

Bend, Oregon
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6. Re: 4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

Many thanks! Very much appreciated! I had not heard of mappy.com, will check it out.

7. Re: 4 Chateaux in the Loire Valley - What Order Should We Plan?

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