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CDG rent car drive Loire Valley suggestions November

Last minute trip to Paris Nov 3. Thinking of picking up rental car at CDG driving to Loire Valley and spending three night - then back to Paris. I know this is not optimal time of year. Some questions:
1) How is drive from CDG as route cuts me thru Paris at 9AM on a Wednesday morning - how difficult will it be driving - like any big city (LA, Toronto, etc) at rush hour?
2) Any thoughts or suggestions on the 3 hr drive to Loire Valley once I get beyond Paris - anything of note?
3) Keeping car for time and travel in Loire Valley - using RS guide book to try and figure out where to stay (Amboise looks like a good pick) and what day trips.
4) I have not book car yet - so figuring pick up at CDG is easy and available - on return back to Paris hotel to avoid city driving - I was thinking of doing a night in Versailles and drop car in Versailles town. Is that a 'good idea' or would keeping the car (and not having to taxi or train back to Paris) and dropping car in Paris city be better - concerned about city driving - appreciate thoughts, validation, caution, or encouragement on what worked for you.


Posted by
186 posts

Rather than rent car at CDG, one could take TGV from CDG to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps station in Loire, rent a car there, and then drive 25 min to Amboise.

Posted by
323 posts

I would do as Jeff B suggested. I did that exact drive last month- it was not fun getting out of Paris, and it was pouring rain. If you’re used to big city driving (Seattle, NYC, etc), you’ll be ok probably. I was fine, but I initially booked my car because my original flight landed in the afternoon. If I was going again and landing in early am like I did, I’d train for sure. Who loves that kind of traffic?

The drive is uneventful, and we were going to stop at Chaumont but didn’t. You can always drive back there, it’s close enough. The train would be my first option.

ETF: Chaumont, not Chambord

Posted by
8296 posts

I agree that taking the train is the best idea. It’s dangerous to drive after an international flight. If I have to I limit myself to one hour to my destination. From CDG to Amboise it’s a minimum of 3 hours. You should probably tack on at least an hour to that for a more realistic timeframe.

Posted by
323 posts

We loved Amboise, and I would definitely use it for a base, even if you don’t want to move to visit the west side of the Loire. I sent you a pm.

Posted by
26053 posts

I'm very glad that you have chosen the safer and more refreshing train option.

When you said you were concerned about jet lag on the train into Paris I was having horror worries about you behind a wheel for 4 hours (you would need to stop along the way).

Traffic in Rochester and Syracuse can build up but it is nothing like Paris. I used to live in Syracuse and had colleagues in Rochester, and have driven in Paris. You don't want to.

Posted by
2986 posts

We've both driven and trained from Paris. DH vowed never to drive through Paris ever again. And that was mid day and we weren't jet lagged. Take the train.

Check train availability on the sncf website. But my bet is that the easiest and most frequent departures for St. Pierre des Corps will be from gare Montparnasse. You could take a taxi from the airport to the train station for a fixed price. Or you could take any combination of RER, Metro and/or bus.

There are several car rental companies at the St. Pierre train station, and as mentioned, it's only about 30 min drive to Amboise. We really enjoyed staying there and it's easy to day trip to many of the Loire chateaux from there. IIRC we rented our car from Sixt. If you are returning the car on a weekend, be sure to check their open hours.

Posted by
7701 posts

Three nights takes you to the weekend. There was a light strike at Montparnasse this weekend 1/5 TGV affected, another called for next weekend. Keep your rental return flexible in case they call a third weekend strike, so you can drive to Orly, return your car, and taxi to your Paris hotel.

Posted by
186 posts

In reply to your question about trains: On Aug 24 our flight arrived at CDG at 8:10am. We caught a 9:46am INOUI TGV from there direct to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, arriving at 11:43am. (Later trains are available). We then took a local train at 12:29pm, arriving at Amboise at 12:40pm.

Before boarding the local train, we confirmed our rental car reservation at the AVIS office right next to Saint Pierre-des-Corps. (We picked up the car on Aug 27, driving to Dordogne with a stop at Oradour-sur-Glane.) JFYI, there is also an ATM in the station at Saint Pierre-des-Corps where we picked up some Euros.

BTW, I purchased the TGV and local train tickets while in US using the INOUI mobile application.

Posted by
60 posts

Wife and I are just back from France last week...7 days in Paris & 7 in Amboise. We picked up our car at Bercy, on the left bank & drove down to Amboise. There is free parking across from the tourist office in Amboise. We drove back to CDG after a week on the Loire & kept the car for a day at the airport Sheraton so we could explore Chantilly on our last day. I wouldn't fear a little Paris driving .The big ring road, the "Periferique" circles Paris in the footprint of the old walls, so you never need to get into inner city driving. From CDG it's a straight shot, all highway, down to the Paris periferique, then a half circle around the city perimeter to the A-10 & thence down to Amboise. It's all pretty much standard freeway driving, plenty of rest stops with excellent facilities, & some nice scenery once clear of the Paris area. Traffic can get a bit busy on the Periferique, as in any big city, especially at rush hours, but I've done it 5 times now & ir's not such a big deal. I've experienced much worse around New York, L.A. & (worst of all ) Atlanta. A GPS is always a big help...(one that speaks ENGLISH!)

Posted by
26053 posts

The Boulevard Périphérique mentioned just above is a road which, for me who drives in Paris and London and other cities (although I do my very best to avoid driving in Paris), does take a bit of getting used to.

It has its own rules, strictly enforced, which include - very unusually for a multilane main highway - priorité à droite all the way around, narrow lanes, tight corners, and a very low speed limit.

Wikipedia summarizes it well -

Boulevard Périphérique (French pronunciation: ​[bulvaʁ peʁifeʁik]),
sometimes called Périph', is a controlled-access dual-carriageway ring
road in Paris, France. With a few exceptions (see Structure and
Layout), it is situated along Paris's administrative limit.

The speed limit is 70 km/h (45 mph). Each ring generally has four
traffic lanes, with no hard shoulder. At junctions, circulating
traffic in the rightmost lane (separated from the other lanes at this
point by a continuous white line to the left) must yield priority to
entering vehicles.

It is worth knowing the special circumstances so as to stay out of trouble...

Posted by
4944 posts

We visited the Loire Valley some years ago and took the train. I highly recommend that, over driving. The traffic will be awful. CDG is on the north side of Paris and the Loire is south.

We stayed in Blois and had no problem visiting the Chateux we wanted to see without a car.

Posted by
3309 posts

We did the Loire Valley back in 2004 and I’m sure traffic wasn’t as bad. Upon arrival we drove directly to just north of Orleans and spent the night. We also spent nights at Chinon (loved the town) and Rocamadour before continuing on to Spain. Returning from Spain we drove the wine route in the Bordeaux region and spent a night in Poitiers before returning to Paris.

Posted by
6704 posts

Please please do not engage in a five- or six-hour drive after arriving in France on an overnight flight from North America. You are putting yourself at risk, which is your own choice, but you are also putting at risk anyone on the road that morning/afternoon.

Take the train to Tours and then pick up a car, or take the train all the way to Amboise and pick up the car a day or two later.

Posted by
2431 posts

Driving across the whole Paris region from the airport to the A10 highway to Tours is no fun even without jetlag. And there is basically nothing of note en route until you reach the Loire valley... take the train.
You can take the high speed TGV train to Tours Saint Pierre des Corps (from Montparnasse station, or CDG airport but fewer trains) and rent a car there. Unfortunately due to engineering works the slower, cheaper trains to Orléans, Blois and Tours do not run between 10.00-15.00 every day these days, which is precisely when you would need them otherwise.

Posted by
14 posts

THANKS ALL - fantastic input - I wanted to hear "yea, you can do it no problem" - but, thanks to the savvy and knowledgeable travelers I am not going to do the drive. I will take the TGV INOUI from CDG to Tours / Saint Pierre-des-Corps. I see I have a few AM departure options. Guessing that I should buy my ticket that day. Too risky to guess when I would get to TVG gate.

Will make a new post "How to get from CDG / United Terminal 2A to the INOUI TGV station". Hoping it is not too complex after collecting bags and clearing customs.

THANKS EVERYONE WHO RESPONDED - for sharing your insights.


Posted by
6704 posts

Hi Brian - thank you for your willingness to be open and listen. I think you will be much happier.

Getting from Terminal 2A to the train station is easy — just follow the signs that say TRAINS - if it gets any more specialized than that, look for TRAINS GRANDES LIGNES or TRAINS SNCF.

I would guess that the website easyCDG probably has photos and diagrams . . .