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5 nights in Loire Valley - where should we stay as home base?

We are staying 5 nights in Loire and going to have a car and see the area Chateaus by day. By night, we would like to be able to walk to good restaurants or bars from our hotel. I had originally thought Amboise, but heard it's very limited from a quality restaurant perspective. I also heard its "Disney-fied" so to speak, making newer buildings look older etc. We will be there in May. I want something authentic, very romantic, a few decent restaurant choices, picturesque, and with a few sights of its own in case we want to stay put for a day. No big city feel please. I will also be trying to plan a special day for my significant others birthday while in the area. Neither of us have been to France. Samaur, Blois, Loches, Chinon? Others?

Posted by
1437 posts

We stayed a few minutes from Blois and enjoyed the area as a home base. The "Son et Lumière" show in the evening, in the courtyard of the Château Royal de Blois is worth catching. Blois also has several restaurants that you may enjoy.

Posted by
1116 posts

I say Tours 100%. Easy access from Paris via the TGV or intercities (takes 2 hrs instead of 1). Tours is a nice blend between the modern (Place Plumereau area) and the new. I've never found the traffic to be a problem, but it is a larger city yet it doesn't feel so large. The Tourangeaux say it's a "human-sized city" - and they are right as it's quite walkable (though they have put in a new tramway). There are also some of the best restaurants I've ever eaten at there (on Rue Colbert), an amazing cathedral, a world class Beaux-Arts museum, and great shopping (there's a great store near Place de la Monstre that has great local products.) I say Tours all the way. Blois is nice, but the options aren't as abundant, Samaur is close to Angers (which is also lovely), and Chinon is rather out of the way (IMO). Do your own little search and see what works best for you.

Posted by
9 posts

My wife and I will be traveling from the Loire Valley to Barcelona. We want to take the TGV. I believe we will have to go to Paris in order to catch the TGV to Barcelona, is this correct?

I also read the traffic is horrendous in Tours, but not sure what that means. Compared to what.... Rome, NYC???

BTW Sarah, my wife and I are spending 4 nights in the Lorie Valley before heading to Barcelona. We are making the trip in June of this year. I'll be watching this thread. Interested in places to stay as well, and we'll have a car. Maybe we can compare notes.


Posted by
341 posts

HI Sarah! We've been a few times and did things differently both times. On our first trip in 2010, we stayed in Amboise at Le Manoir Saint Thomas - very nice! In 2013, we stayed in Azay-Le-Rideau at the Hotel Biencourt. The next night we stayed at the Grand Saint Michel Hotel right on the grounds of the Chambord Chateau. Spectacular! The hotel was very sparse (and inexpensive!), but so worth it to see the beautiful chateau at night after the hordes of visitors left and first thing in the morning. We couldn't go in to the chateau after hours, of course, but we could walk the grounds. The hotel has an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy your meals and look at the chateau. My husband and I joked that in the US there would have been a 5-star resort put up on the grounds to accommodate tourists who were willing to pay $$ to stay on the grounds. Not here! And it was great. Very sparse rooms though, so don't go expecting fancy. :-)

Posted by
8280 posts

I've stayed several places in the Loire over the years and my favorite so far is Amboise. It's in the middle of the Loire making it very convenient to go either east or west. I did not think it was "Disney-fied" at all. It's right on the river and very charming imo. Have stayed there a couple of times and enjoyed walking all over and especially throughout the residential area.
Tours was very stressful for us... felt like a chaotic city to me and the traffic was insane. Didn't spend much time there so my opinion doesn't count for much, but that was our very limited experience there. I'm sure the centre-ville is quaint and charming.
Next time we visit the Loire I'd like to stay at La Roseraie in the town of Chenonceaux next to the chateau. I've read so many recs for it (and their restaurant) on this forum that I know it must be wonderful. The chateau de Chenonceau is my favorite and staying within walking distance would be fun.