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Burgundy or Loire valley?

Hello, I'm planning a trip in late May to France. I will be visiting Paris for about 5 days and then heading to either Burgundy or Loire valley? I'm unsure about which to choose? I've heard that Burgundy is more scenic but that the Loire Valley has better Chateaus. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by
6734 posts

Just depends on what you want to see. If you want to see chateaus, especially the more popular ones, then the answer is clear. If you don’t care about them, then Burgundy seems the better choice. Research the area of Burgundy you may visit to see what all those towns offer. Consider your mode of transportation when deciding, since some chateaus may not be served by public transportation, or public transportation may be a hassle. I had a rental car when visiting the chateaus and the valley.

Posted by
5952 posts

I like both and would need more information. Will you have a car or use public transportation? Are you into wine? If so what kinds?

Posted by
5952 posts

Well, I do love the assortment of chateaus in Loire. Everyone seems to have certain favorites but most like Chenonceau and Villandry. Amboise has DaVinci's chateau which is pretty interesting and a lot of his machines/inventions on display. Burgundy would be considered the "better" wine region, but I did really enjoy tasting in the Loire. We went to some friendly, more low key operations. We especially liked the Vouvray area. I haven't been to Dijon other than driving from Beaune to the Loire. The route de Grand Crus is a rural highway from Beaune to Dijon and it was quite beautiful. We did some tasting in Burgundy at larger operations. We learned some. That was on our first trip to France, and if we went back to Burgundy I'd do some research to find smaller wineries more out in the country. A beautiful area in Burgundy is the stretch between Dijon and I think it was Orleans. We stopped in the medieval town of Noyers, which was interesting and very picturesque. Ultimately the choice is yours. You could seek out some travel videos on this website, and on Amazon, Netflix or your library that might help you to make a decision.

Posted by
6113 posts

Both have plenty to offer, but at that time of year, Burgundy may have better weather. It was wet and windy when I was there in late May this year.

Burgundy has a more varied landscape. The Loire has more chateaux, but you can get chateauxed out after a while.

Posted by
15647 posts

I've only been in Burgundy. There is a lot of variety, chateaux, abbeys, churches and cathedrals, and lovely small towns and villages. Look for the nesting storks - everywhere.

Posted by
2916 posts

Both the Loire and Burgundy have lots of chateaux, but they're very different. Most of the Loire chateaux are "pleasure palaces," whereas a lot of the Burgundy chateaux are fortifications. Both worth visiting, depending what you're interested in.
As for wine, Burgundy has the reputation, and many great wineries, but the Loire has lots of good wine and more diversity than Burgundy. And advantage to the Loire is that if you just stop at a random winery (during open hours), you're highly likely to be able to taste wines and even get a tour. In Burgundy you're more likely to need an appointment, although there are also plenty of places where you can just stop in (I've done that dozens of times). You just have to do some research.

Digoine (about 20 minutes from my house)
So, Bob, maybe you've gone bowling at Bull'in Charolias, just outside Digoin.

Posted by
66 posts

So much great information. Thank you all. Also good point about the weather, I hadn't considered that.

Posted by
9429 posts

I love both areas, but the Loire a bit more. Scenery is stunning in both, but more so in the Loire for me. We’ve had great weather in May. We’ve been many times, enjoy staying in Amboise (where da Vinci’s house is), a charming and walkable town on the river. Chenonceau is our favorite chateau. We have spent entire days there. We never get chateau’d out... : )

Posted by
4132 posts

The famous Loire chateaux are Renaissance palaces. Mostly empty, btw. Everyone thinks they are supposed to love them, but not everyone does. Will you?

Here is what I suggest. Spend part of one of your days visiting Versailles. If it whets your appetite, on to the Loire! If it sates it, off to Burgundy (where there are great Medieval castles, churches, abbeys, and hill towns).

In May, you don't need advanced reservations. You can call a day to two in advance. Just come equipped with a Loire plan and a Burgundy plan in your bag, then decide once you are in France which plan to follow.

Posted by
66 posts

Susan, thank you for your reply. Adam, I like the way you think. I will keep that in mind.

Posted by
9429 posts

I don’t think Versailles (which i also love) and Loire chateaux are a fair analogy. They are very different experiencs. Versailles is over the top decorated and insanely jam packed with people. The Loire chateaux are easy to get to by car, not crowded, serenely relaxing, and in a much more beautiful setting imo.
Disliking Versailles will not tell you if you will dislike the Loire Valley and their chateaux... imo of course.

Posted by
1825 posts

If you love wine, Burgundy is the obvious choice. It's the one place my wife insists we revisit on our next trip and I agree. If you are fit enough to ride a bike, the routes through the vineyards and many small towns are wonderful and the towns are quintessential French. While the Loire does have Sancerre and goat cheese, it doesn't really compare as a wine and food destination to Burgundy which is at the top of many lists. I'd rent a car for one or two days but if you stay in Beaune you won't need it the entire time.

Posted by
2916 posts

It's on my to-do list.

Well, Bob, I'm not sure it's exciting enough to make a special trip for. We've gone there a couple of times when we've stayed with our friend in Gueugnon, because her children and grandchildren are scattered around the area, and it's a way for us to see everyone and to keep the little ones entertained.

Posted by
10298 posts

Paray le Monial, Digoin, truly pays profond. Wonderful area, the south of Burgundy.

Posted by
4132 posts

@Susan is right about Versailles not being a perfect proxy for the Loire chateaux. But I think it is a good proxy available from Paris.

Fontaineblue, Vaux le Vicomte, or Chantilly might be better approximations, but are harder to get to. Of the 3, Chantilly is probably the easiest from Paris.

@other Bob: In Beaune and other parts of Burgundy I've had the experience of finding shopkeepers and sales clerks to spoke no English at all. (That's not a complaint.)

Posted by
9429 posts

Adam, I agree that Fontainebleau and Vaux le Vicomte are better analogies.
Not Chantilly, too small and boring for me.

Knowing the history of a particular chateau, knowing what happened there, having an understanding of the politics back in the day and having an imagination makes a chateau come alive and makes it fascinating to me.
Without any of that, then yeah, would be hard to appreciate any chateau.

I just saw the movie Mary, Queen of Scots and I was just as fascinated by the locations, castles and the interiors of the castles as I was the story the screenwriters told.

That’s part of what I love about Europe, seeing how people lived 100s of years ago. We don’t have that kind of history in California.

The most fascinating part of a castle for me are the kitchens, imaging all that went on there...

Posted by
66 posts

So much great information. I am excited about looking Chateaus in the Loire valley so I think we will probably go that route.

Posted by
5952 posts

Somebody mentioned learning a bit of the history of each chateau which I highly endorse. Chenonceau tops most lists of chateaus including mine! When King Henry died, his wife, Catherine de Medici, kicked out his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. The poor thing, had to move to the Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire. We enjoyed that the two were tied together in that way, and we thought Chaumont was lovely in a beautiful setting and worth a visit. Chenonceau also has some interesting WWII history. I may have already mentioned, Clos Luce, Da Vinci's chateau in Amboise. Its a nice visit because it is different, has a beautiful setting and to learn more about Da Vinci was a great bonus. Also, we stayed at Chateau de Pray close to Amboise. It's a lovely treat, and I was able to get a deal there. I got a free night because I stayed three days.