We are landing in Paris on a Sunday morning in early March and want to train down yup another town for three nights before returning to Paris for 6 and then flying home. Which would you say would be better in March which is not quite in season for visiting historic sites and drinking wine using public transportation (or skirts but no car) to get around - Bordeaux or Amboise/Loire Valley? Amboise is closer...but actually takes longer on the train. I thin it's more touristy so maybe be guaranteed that things will be open and that we can bike/train to sites in the off-season?
If you are interested in day trips to castles in the area then Amboise. All the castles are open in March so I would not say that it is not quite tourists season. You can rent a bike from castle to castle but the weather might not cooperate.
From what I can see There are tours running from Bordeaux to nearby vineyards that time of year.
Bordeaux the city by itself I can't see needing 3 days there.
What would be better I would base it on your interests given the above.
Most foreign tourists who go to Bordeaux are in transit to the Dordogne/Lot, I think, and 3 nights is not really long enough for a good visit to that area. Bordeaux itself is fine but not the most exciting option in France, and it takes 4 hours to get there from CDG Airport.
Have you thought about Lyon? I believe just about anyone who has been to both cities will tell you Lyon is more interesting, and the train time is shorter. There are a lot of indoor things to enjoy in Lyon if you run into bad weather which--let's face it--could certainly happen in early March.
Another possibility would be Strasbourg/Colmar in Alsace. In terms of train time, Strasbourg is quicker to reach than Bordeaux but not as fast as Lyon.
Thanks all! Amboise in the Loire Valley it is! Now I just gotta see what I can get to without a car, or if I need to hire a guide to take us to vineyards and see what chateaux we can get to with the train/bus... But we'll cross our fingers for good bike weather!
It's important to consider the size of town when making these decisions... Amboise is 12,000 people, Bordeaux is 254,000 and Amboise is a small country town with limited services (especially off season) whilst Bordeaux is an major city.
A better choice than either would be Tours, which is an hour from Paris and is at the heart of the Loire Valley. You will have a better selection of accommodation and more dining choices than Amboise, and you will save about an hour travel each day: staying in Amboise and not having a car means that most days will start with a 10 - 15 minute walk to Amboise station and a 20 minute train ride to Tours.