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Car or Train from CDG to Amboise?

Hi,

We are traveling to France for the first time in June and spending the first six days in the Loire region with a base in Amboise. Is it better to rent a car at CDG and drive (flight arrives 6:55 AM) or train to St. Pierre des Corps then Amboise? We would then get a car as needed for château visits and wine tasting. We already have Eurail passes since the trip is 41 days and includes many other countries after the French portion.

I appreciate any suggestions as well as must see day trips from Amboise. We have Chenonceau, Chambord, Villandry, and Chateau d’Amboise on the itinerary for my daughter (15 yrs).

Rob

Posted by
6113 posts

It sounds as though France is your first country, so if arriving after a long flight, it’s not really a good idea to drive for 3 hours when jet lagged on unfamiliar roads. Take the train and hire a car on day 2.

I stayed in Saumur on my last visit and had a very pleasant day cycling (e-bikes) down the river looking at the pretty villages and pottering around. No big sights, but memorable. You can have too many châteaux.

The Abbey at Fontevraud was interesting.

A car is the last thing you need for wine tasting! In Saumur, we visited Langlois Chateau for wine tasting which was excellent. Be careful, as a friend was stopped by the police after wine tasting (she spat most out) and it transpired she was over the limit. She was surprised as she didn’t think she had drunk much.

I haven’t been to Amboise.

Posted by
2590 posts

Please do not drive to the Loire Valley after an all-night, transatlantic flight. This is the time to take the train.

Without dates, I cannot give complete information, but your options are typically:

  • TGV from CDG to St Pierre des Corps (or Tours), then rent a car for the 30-minute drive to Amboise.
  • Taxi or RER B train into Paris to Gare Montparnasse for a TGV to St Pierre des Corps (or Tours).
  • Taxi or RER B train into Paris to Gare Austerlitz for a TER train to Amboise.

Allow a minimum of 3 hours from scheduled CDG arrival to TGV departure, add 1 hour (4 hours) if you go into Paris to pick up a train.

Book train tickets are soon as they become available for best pricing: https://www.sncf-connect.com/

For car rentals, I might check: https://www.autoeurope.com/

Lastly, if you take the train to Amboise, the station there is a good distance from town with few public transportation options, only prearranged taxi to my knowledge.

Posted by
7076 posts

The one part you could drive, in my opinion, is Saint Pierre des Corps to Amboise. There are more car rental options in Saint Pierre des Corps, and it is a 30-minute drive at most.

Posted by
1237 posts

I have searched previous posts and am confused by conflicting answers.

We will arrive CDG (May 2022) and need to get to St. Pierre des Corps, to connect to Amboise (will either rent a car or take train for that part, TBD). We do not want to drive directly to Amboise after our flight!

I see on Trainline there is a direct train, which seems perfect. It is also half the price of sncf.

I have seen posts stating I need to go from CDG to Gare Montparnasse, then to St. Pierre des Corps. This is my first time in France so I am a little confused as to the best route. What is the difference?

Posted by
35 posts

Charlotte,

I saw a direct train from CDG to St. Pierre des Corps as well. My schedule shows it at 9:46 AM and 11:46 AM on the morning of our arrival. Cars can be picked up in St. Pierre (part of Tours?) or trains to Amboise can be had from there. From what I have researched so far, there is no need to travel into Paris to reach St. Pierre. Is that information incorrect?

Thanks for all the tips. How long should customs and obtaining a vaccination pass take? We are all vaccinated and boosted in the U.S. with an accepted vaccine. Other countries on our itinerary accept our U.S. vaccination cards as proof for entrance and visiting museums, trains, etc.

We will not drive from CDG to Amboise on arrival day. Would it be safe to book the 9:46 AM train to St. Pierre with an arrival at CDG at 6:55 AM?

How easy is it to arrange wine tasting tours in the Loire once we arrive?

Dr. Rob

Posted by
7566 posts

It is worth noting that the car rental places near the St. Pierre des Corps TGV station close for lunch from 12-2PM, no delays, no exceptions. We had a nice lunch on the plaza, to await reopening. It's a tiny exaggeration, but a car is almost essential for any chateaux visits.

Amboise is an important location, but I note that you have a substantial list of chateaux, which might get longer, if you learn about others, drive by others, or learn of Son Et Lumiere or Candlelight (exterior) night events. Those tend to book up well in advance, as do the best guides, so I would not go without having booked what I want. (We never use private tour guides, so I can't offer actual advice on that.)

My solution (which is, I admit, a poor idea for some other tourists) was to cut out the chateaux to the east of Tours, and stay west of Tours. That was affected by our plans to continue West to Brittany and Normandy. But I was right in guessing that the daily travel time and traffic, plus parking and walking to the actual chateaux (especially the most popular ones) adds up to a lot of time. I recommend that you get a smaller car with at least "normal" ground clearance, since you may have to park in an overflow-parking meadow. It you like having a big or really fine dinner, you'd also want to sleep in reach of a restaurant zone. (We have our big meal at lunch, and might have snacks and wine at the hotel cafe for dinner.)

Do you know that TGV may have mandatory reservations for railpass holders? If you want to sit together, you certainly need to book online, even if there is a fee. You could get shut off a full train during high season if you don't book. With advance purchase discounts, there might be a few trips like this one where you might choose to omit using a railpass-day. Have you worked out all your railpass-days?

I am not up on current details, but SNCF now has two business names to sell premium and discount travel without contaminating one reputation with "discounting". (I mean, slightly like Groupon makes it look like the merchant doesn't undercut his/her own pricing ... )

It's hard to know what's available in Covid-Time, but we particularly enjoyed Villandry, tiny Château de la Bourdaisière (ambitious tomato and dahlia specialty gardens), Azay-le-Rideau, ruins of Chateau Chinon (also a good town to wander for dinner, down the elevator.) We found interiors less interesting, and we love garden visits, so we usually spent more time outside, or didn't even tour some interiors. Villandry gives out free vegetables from their gardens, in a wall-bin.

Posted by
1237 posts

Dr. Rob,
I hope it is correct that we don't have to go into Paris at first! I saved Paris for the end of my trip. I am just hoping that 3 hours is enough time to get the vaccine pass and catch the direct train.

Posted by
35 posts

Tim,

Thank you for all the tips! I am aware of the need to reserve seats and am ready to do so. Do you recommend the 9:46 or 11:46 train with an arrival at CDG of 6:55 AM?

We will likely cut down the number of chateau. I have four that we want to see (Chenonceau, Amboise, Chambord, and Villandry) but I am open to replacing Chambord with another one. We have six days in the Loire so we will not do more than one each day most likely. My wife has some mobility issues so she cannot do as much walking as I can. Our VRBO is supposedly a 5-minute walk (downhill to the center of Amboise).

Charlotte,

Yes, I hope the schedule I have found is accurate. This is from SNCF website

Posted by
35 posts

Follow up: Does anyone know how far in advance I can make seat reservations for the train to St. Pierre des Corps? I checked today and trains are not open for booking for June 10.

Dr. Rob

Posted by
7566 posts

---Do you recommend the 9:46 or 11:46 train with an arrival at CDG of 6:55 AM?

I have not looked at the SNCF or bargain website. 9:46 is very risky. But if you are in Business Class on a bigger airline, you might have a chance. I should say that our many United flights to Brussels were always either Bus Gates or the very last stairway at the far end of a very long concourse! I would think you have large baggage for a 41 day trip. You'll probably have to hump it yourselves. Can you lift it onto a shuttle vehicle (I haven't been to CDG in some years ... )

Because I have not traveled in two years, I am reluctant to answer your question. I have had some very long waits in the "All Other Passports" lines. But in truth, where they have implemented photo (i.e. face-scanning) immigration for non-EU arrivals, with automatic doors, I have had some very fast entries.

Have you started using the recent days arrival tab on your airline's web page to see how often your flight has been on time? I think this is of less value in Covid times - there have been reports of airlines booking non-existent flights on spec and cancelling them later. There are also websites that collate these data.

We also once had an abandoned bag scare at the CDG long-distance train station, and were not allowed onto the platform until minutes before our train (to Strasbourg, not the Loire) pulled in.

Posted by
2590 posts

I have already given guidance as which train you should take but may I point out that after having seen each of these châteaux many, many times, I would cut out those on the west side of Tours and stay with what is found on the east side, to wit: Chambord (my personal favorite), Chenonceau, Cheverny (if for no other reason than it is one of the few fully furnished châteaux), and Blois. By comparison to what you might otherwise see, Château Amboise is relatively unimpressive, as most of it was destroyed during the Revolution. A drive by is lets you know all you need know about Château Amboise.

Château Villandry is very interesting, but as it is on the west side of Tours, the traffic to reach it during certain times of the day can be horrendous. I prefer Azay le Rideau to Villandry, but the big draw to Villandry is the garden.