Thank you everyone for your input, the first half of my trip to Paris is planned! We are going to spend 3 days in Loire valley touring some chateaux, maybe a little biking in the area continuing to eat good food etc.... We will be renting a car. I was going to book a hotel in Tours but every time I search staying in Loire Amboise pops up as a go to location. Does anyone have a preference? Thanks!
Amboise is a bigger town, so if you prefer to have more attractions I would go with this one, otherwise, Tours is a decent option as well. They're not far from each other as well.
Tours is 10 times bigger than Amboise, at least according to 2014 figures.
Here is a year old thread discussing the pros and cons of both.
I can't speak to Tours but we stayed in Amboise last year and really loved it. It's probably a bit more touristy than Tours, which is the bigger of the two cities but its a very scenic area and a good jumping off point for the more popular chateaux in the region. Their chateaux over the river is a beautiful site, even if you don't go inside it. Amboise has a really nice river walk area and is easily accessible to some nice bike/walking paths. We spent 3 days in the region as well and saw Chambord, Chenonceaux, Chamont-Sur-Loire, Azay-Le-Rideau, Villandry, and Cheverny -- several of those are on the other side of Tours. The travel time was no problem from Amboise.
If you have a rental car, I don't think you can go wrong in either location. The RS book talks about both locations. I'd read through that chapter and decide which sounds more right for you.
@Sam, whoops, my bad, thanks for correcting me :) I learn here everyday
I based in Amboise and found it easy to bike or walk through. There are plenty of cafe/shopping opportunities but it's a small town on the Loire. There is also the royal chateau in town, Clos Luce a walkable distance up the hill and Chenonceau roughly 22 km from Amboise.
My experience with Tours is riding a bicycle through town. Part of the issue was my GPS didn't seem to understand the idea of a bike route and sent me through snarled traffic and narrow roads with big trucks traveling 90 kph.
Based on my limited experience, I'd pick Amboise hands down.
Amboise is little more than a small town - 12,000 or so residents, but a huge tourist attraction. If you're staying in Amboise you do have to be careful when selecting restaurants - they tend to be set up for people who will never be coming back, so they can be a bit slapdash. That goes for quite a lot of the facilities in Amboise: certain people have picked up that RS recommends it highly and are taking advantage, not necessarily to the tourist's advantage.
Tours on the other hand, is a city of 130,000 people, has 2 universities, hundreds of good restaurants and hotels, and because it doesn't feature in many english language guidebooks is relatively unspoiled.
I would choose Tours every time. Amboise is ok as long as you're travelling out of season, but in summer it's almost impossible to move at times. I never go there in summer except when working as the traffic can be horrendous - only likely to be worse now one of the bridges is closed (I have lived in Seoul, London, and Sydney - I know the traffic isn't as bad as any of thsoe places, but sometimes it feels close...)
Definitely not into Disneylandesque thanks so much for your help!
Thanks looking forward to it!
We stayed at a chateau (very reasonable) outside of Amboise and loved it. We went into Amboise one night for dinner and found it enjoyable. I think its a bit harsh to call it Disneyesque. If so, that would apply to many tourist destinations. However, we spent the majority of our time in the countryside. I would plot your planned itinerary on a map. For us the desired stops on our first trip were more central to Amboise. Also, in Amboise, I highly recommend the DaVinci chateau, CLos Luce. It is a very different experience than the other chateaus. If you have a car, I think you'd have to pay to park in Tours.
I was in Amboise in the early fall of 2015 and found it crowded but not overrun with people and really enjoyed the Town and ate in some nice Restaurants and parking was available.We picked up ur car in Tours and left immediately.