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Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Singapore
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Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Hi all

I will be in Paris on 11 Aug, and wont leave till 15 Aug. I plan to spend 2 to 2.5 days in the Loire Valley area, probably from 12 - 14 Aug. Here's a few of the items I would like to cover in Loire Valley

i) Visit Versailles along the way

ii) Visit Château (have a list: Chambord-> Cheverny-> Chaumont-> Chenonceau-> Villandry -> d'Azay-le-Rideau

iii) Do a hot air balloon trip over Loire Valley

iv) Stay in one of the Château

A few questions below, hoping to get some help:

1) What is the best route to complete the above? I was initially thinking of driving from Paris all the way, and perhaps return the car in my last stop and take a train back. However, to do this for 2 days, the rental alone will cost 500 euros! and I heard about the crazy traffic out of Paris.

- Should I take a train to Loire Valley area and rent a car from there? Any way to look for cheaper rent?

2) I think the list of Château may be too long, and I may not enter all of them. If I should pick a few, which ones should I definitely not miss?

3) Where is the best place to do the hot air balloon thing? Is it better to do it in the morning or towards sunset?

4) Where would I likely end up in the above itinerary? Where should I book my stay?

5) I come from Singapore, and have a Singapore driving license. What are the steps and things I have to do to rent a car in France? I have not driven in Europe before.

6) Is there a website I can go to which tells me driving routes, tolls and charges etc?

7) If you think I should not drive, what is the next best alternative to go around this area?

Thank you all!

Le Bugue, France
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1. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Where are you getting a quote of 500 euros to rent a car for 2 days? That's about what I normally pay for 3 weeks. I realize that a 2-day car rental can cost as much as a 3-day rental, but that price is over the top!

Driving out of Paris seems to bring out the paranoia in people. Trust me, it's way easier than Singapore.

For driving routes, time, and fuel and toll costs, go to www.viamichelin.com. Driving times on that site do not take into account any stops or heavy traffic or deviations, etc., so figure that into your plans.

Singapore
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2. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Sorry, my bad, the quote should be around 280 euros (from Avis). Selected to pick up in Paris and return in Tours. Just selected for 2 days. Seems a bit steep for me, considering if I need to pay for train tickets from Tours back to Paris

Le Bugue, France
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3. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Avis now charges an extra fee for dropping off somewhere other than where you pick up, I believe.

Call AutoEurope and Kemwel and see what they can do for you. I agree that 280 euros still sounds steep.

Singapore
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4. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Thanks, cost aside, anyone able to provide some comments on the itinerary and other questions please?

Haifa, Israel
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5. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Just returned from a family trip in France. Had similar concerns but eventually rented a car and it was perfect. GPS tells you exact directions, driving there is very simple and convenient. I used the toll motorway just to arrive but toured there in the roads between the beautiful villages.

Rented a car for a week for less than 300 euros.

ן stayed in a lovely cottage near all the attractions http://www.vrbo.com/654644a

Brisbane, Australia
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6. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Hi MilleniumX,

we're planning to do a similar trip in a few months. Ours will be four days and we won't be doing a balloon ride, or visiting Versailles. Even four days feels really rushed to me, and I wished we had planned for a bit longer. So I think you should trust your gut that your wish list has too much on it.

For instance, most people put aside an entire day to enjoy Versailles for the gardens as well as the chateau. Keep in mind it will take you just under an hour to drive there from Paris, and even if you pre-purchase tickets, you still have to line up for the security check. Things always take longer than you first expect.

I would either go to Versailles and add the rest of your time staying a bit longer in Paris, or skip Versailles, to fit more into the Loire Valley.

I wanted to do a balloon ride in the Loire too, but upon research found that even though you're only up in the air for about an hour, they expect you to meet early to help get the balloon ready. They suggest to put aside 3 hours (that's not taking in the time to travel to where they launch either). I only ever found ones that went in the morning (wind matters).

Keep in mind, in the Loire Valley, that you have to pay the price of admittance whether or not you go inside to tour the chateaux, even if you just want to see the outside. Many are not clearly visible from the road.

Also, Chambord currently has a section in scaffolding(but shouldn't affect touring inside and the other activities they have on offer on the grounds. Azay-le-Rideu's gardens are also closed for renovation. I don't know when either of these will be complete. Chenonceau and Chambord would be the ones I would definitely keep on my list.

http://www.chenonceau.com/index.php/en

I would get a return train ticket to Tours and hire a car from there. Most car rentals will have a higher daily rate for rentals less than 3 days.

Definitely stay in a hotel. Blois and Amboise would be my pick, but Tours would work too.

Hope you have a great trip, whatever you decide.

Richmond, Virginia
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7. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

Definitely get a train first. I think the suggestion to take it to Tours is pretty smart. Maybe you could take the RER to Versailles and then book a train from there to Tours? This will save you time (so much quicker by TGV than car) and money/petrol. We used www.viamichelin.com to plan our routes and it worked really well. If you have GPS in the car then you can probably get real time traffic information too. A website we used at the start of the year for train tickets was www.capitainetrain.com. Was really good and didn't have payment issues. Previously we used RailEurope but the prices are crazy in comparison. Almost double than Captain Trains.

Also, sorry, I'm not too experienced with hot air ballon rides :( But I did have a great time at Chambord so good to know your visiting it. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I also agree JZibibbo's suggestion about staying in Blois. You'll find some really lovely hotels. We stayed at hotel de bretagne, it's a bit pricey but such an authentic experience.

Good luck with sorting out your itinerary!

Edited: 23 July 2014, 16:05
Le Bugue, France
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8. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

There are no trains from Versailles to Tours. You have to go back to Paris first.

The travaux at Chambord are expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

9. Re: Going to Loire Valley from Paris

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