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Loire Valley Chateaux

We will arrive in St. Pierre de Corps at 9:45 from Paris, pick up our car and begin our 3 nights in the Loire Valley staying very close to Chenonceau.

My thought is that we could head to Chinon for a couple hours then on to Villandry to see the gardens before getting to our B & B near Chenonceau. Then, the next two days spend going east.

Any suggestions on how best to plan our time and what sights are the best?

Posted by
4765 posts

Geez, we all love you, already! ;)

Many others know the Loire better than I do, but I'll start:

Chinon is good for a couple of hours at the chateau site, now mostly in ruins, with a killer view over the town and valley. Haven't been to Villandry in many years but I think the gardens are the main attraction there. On that side of Tours, Azay-le-Rideau is in a beautiful setting but you can't see everything. Seems like your first day makes sense given your timeframe and lodging.

Then, which others to see? Well, duh, Chenonceau, when it opens to minimize crowds. Then I'd go up to Amboise for the chateau and also the Clos Luce, where Leonardo spent his last years. Next day, I'd say further east to Blois, whose chateau has four distinct architectural styles with associated history, then Chambord in the forest, the biggest of them. If you have time, Cheverny is nearby and beautiful. If you're interested in Darwinian struggle and aren't too sensitive to smells, catch the 4:00 feeding of the hunting dogs at Cheverny. Or head back to Chenonceaux for your own tastier dinner.

I'd visit two chateaux a day, three at most. All the ones I listed east of Tours are pretty close together. The countryside is wonderful. You're experienced travelers who know how to have a good time, so have one!

Posted by
1800 posts

Are there any particular Chateaux that are worth only and "drive by" or walking the grounds but not really worth going in?

Also, which medieval towns in the area are at the top of the list for walking through?

Posted by
4943 posts

(sorry, I'm trying bullets to see if I can get paragraphs out of the new site. Hope this is readable.)
- I suggest you look at Google Maps for some driving times. I guess
you're not interested in the West except Chinon (which is wonderful
place to wander around looking for dinner, after the (ruined ... )
historic castle. But it might be easier to re-park in the lower town
if you use the upper parking for the castle visit. It's longer than you think from Chinon to Chenonceau.
- Because it's right near St. Pierre, consider the smaller Château de la Bourdaisière, especially if you're interested in modern gardening (100 varieties of tomato, and lots of dahlias.)
- As another noted, you've made a decision to skip most of the Western chateaux. As long as you picked out what you want, that's a legitimate choice, but it means you'll miss places like Azay and Villandry.
- I was sorry our Loire visit missed the occasional summer outdoor candle illumination nights. But it might be hard to find them listed until you have already made your plans.

Posted by
7992 posts

Hi Susan... I'm not much help really, that's why I didn't answer sooner... my top favorites are.. 1. Chenonceau.. 2. Chambord.. 3. Blois.. I've spent an entire day just at Chenonceau (after many previous visits) because I love it and the grounds so much. They have a good cafe and you can sit outside right in front of the chateau. The grounds have trees, a farm and what seems like a little village where the workers (servants?) lived and I thought it was charming and fascinating. There's a path for walking along the river. And they have, or had anyways, a little wax museum with all the famous people of the day that I thought was well done. Blois in the center of the town/city so it doesn't have grounds, but the chateau itself was really enjoyable for me. Blois has the first round staircase ever built. We've stayed in Amboise a couple times so we saw that chateau, but it's small and not a whole lot to see. In Amboise is Leonardo di Vinci's house, Clos Luce, which I recommend. That was really good. I've seen many more chateaux, but none better than another. But I like all chateaux, they're all fun for me.
Along with seeing chateaux, what I like best is just leisurely driving and stopping where ever... no real agenda. We've always had a guidebook with us and referenced it while driving around. The scenery is beautiful where ever you look. The town of Amboise is really nice and fun to walk around... I don't think any of this is much help but wherever you go I'm sure you'll all have a good time!

Posted by
266 posts

Visiting Saumur and the Troglodyte caves could be included. They are along the river as well as a bit further outside the city.
Unbelievable and very interesting.