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Itinerary Check to the Loire Valley

We needed to use a British Airways voucher and had to get tickets much earlier than expected, so I'm just starting to plan for a trip in April. We had this in mind so I've got an overview but would love to get the experienced advice from so many on this forum!
Background: my husband and I are frequent travelers and have been to Paris several times although our last trip was brief, and I love Paris! We've also seen several areas in France but not these sights outside of Paris.

4/10-Arrive in the evening, sleep in Paris
4/11-Sightsee and sleep in Paris
4/12-early TGV to Amboise, rent a car, see Chambord and Cheverny, sleep in a chateau in the area or maybe Amboise
4/13-Chenonceau early then Clos-Luc in Amboise, sleep in same as last night
4/14-return car and take a train to Chartres, sleep in Chartres
4/15-train to Paris, sleep in Paris
4/16-sleep in Paris
4/17-daytrip to Giverny, sleep in Paris
4/18-midday flight home

-Should we skip the night in Chartres and stay one more night in Amboise area?
-Is 4/12 too busy?
-Should I move a chateau from 4/12 to the afternoon of 4/13?
-Is Giverny not worth it in mid-April?

Thank you for any help!

Posted by
401 posts

If you stay the night in Chartres, you can see Chartres en lumières, which is the light show on the cathedral and at other locations around down. I thought it was amazing and a night in Chartres would be enjoyable.

Posted by
283 posts

I would like to see that, Meg! And looks beautiful just in the daytime (in photos).

Posted by
6824 posts

My experience is in St. Pierre des Corps, but be sure to allow for two-hour lunch closures where you pick up your car. Check shoulder-season chateau opening hours carefully.

TripAdvisor reviews say Chartres in Lights is year-round, but make sure. I wouldn't count on any candlelight evenings or Son Et Lumiere in the Loire in April.

Posted by
692 posts

There is no TGV to Amboise, or car rental.

You will have to catch the TGV to Saint Pierre des Corps and rent a car there. To then drive half way back to Paris to see Chambord and Cheverny will not be the best use of your time.

To get to Chartres from Amboise you will either have to go via Paris, or go by regional train to Blois and catch a couple of buses. You would be better off returning to Paris a day earlier and doing Chartres as a day trip.

Posted by
4485 posts

I think Simon may have somewhat exaggerated the drive to the chateaux. It's not that long or difficult. However, some adjustments might be considered. As mentioned, you would take the TGV to St Pierre des Corps and rent your car from one of the agencies there,. Be aware of their reduced hours on Saturday and closure on Sunday. It's about a 30 min drive to Amboise where there are 2 small chateau hotels that I know of.

You might change the chateaux visited to the ones closer to Amboise on the first day, then the further ones (when you can get an earlier start) on the second day. We enjoyed having a 3rd day to head west to see Azay le Rideau and Villandry.

You might also consider driving from Amboise to Chartres (about 2 hours) and dropping the car there.

Finally, since you say you've been to Paris before, I'd consider dropping that first full day in Paris in favor of more time in the Loire AND having the night in Chartres.

Posted by
6168 posts

How about this?

4/12 -- Train to Tours (not TGV but approx 1 hour direct from Gare Montparnasse). Rent car, then drive to Chenonceau and Cheverny. Drive on to Amboise, sleep there. Maybe time for Chateau d'Amboise this day or the next.

4/13 -- Clos Luce, Chambord, Chateau d'Amboise (if not yesterday). Sleep again in Amboise.

4/14 -- Drive to Chartres (approx 2 hours), drop car, Cathedral and overnight (with or without lumieres it's not to be missed). Orleans is a historic city between Amboise and Chartres, you might make a stop there if it interests you enough.

4/15 -- Train to Paris, and from there as planned.

There's much more to the Loire, particularly the chateaus west of Tours, like Azay and Villandry. You could add a day there at the expense of one of your Paris days. Sleep on that side of Tours rather than heading back to Amboise that night.

Posted by
283 posts

Thank you all for your replies! Cjean, I like your idea of skipping that first day in Paris and driving to Chartres. And Dick I think that itinerary may make more sense for us. We may skip Giverny on the back end of our trip to still get an extra day in Paris. It does seem a shame to go for just one day and I love the idea of seeing Villandry. I know it will be early in the year but tulips are my favorite flower anyway!

I appreciate the help!

Posted by
742 posts

I would flip your chateau days around. See Chambord/Cheverny on 4/13. You can see Chenonceaux and Clos du Luce easily on your arrival day. Clos du Luce can be seen at your convenience if you’re staying in Amboise. Chambord is kind of a drive from Amboise, so this is a real long day as you have it.

Posted by
209 posts

In my research, travel by train from the Loire Valley to Chartres is not direct; either through Paris (Montparnasse) or through Le Mans. Montparnasse looks best to me.

That may affect your decision making on where to sleep. You might consider adding a night to sleeping in Paris and making Chartres a simple day trip with no luggage and one less hotel check-in and check-out. And, a little more time in Paris, where you are spending very little time to see sights, just two plus days as I see your trip.

You could do
4/14-return car and take a train to Paris; afternoon in Paris & sleep in Paris
4/15-Day trip to Chartres, sleep in Paris
4/16-Day in Paris; sleep in Paris
4/17-Day trip to Giverny, sleep in Paris

We are planning Saumur to Chartres x 2 nights, then on to Versailles x 1 night and finally Paris 2 days/4 nights. We are moving more slowly that you.

Posted by
283 posts

Ok now I'm thinking about doing Chartres as a day trip from Paris. (so from Tours head back to Paris and visit Chartres later in the week) It looks like the least train leaves for Paris around 9:30pm.

That should be plenty of time to see the lights in Chartres, do you think?

Thanks again for the great suggestions all!

Posted by
50 posts

I'm sorry to say that it looks like Chartres en Lumieres doesn't start till the end of April 2023.

For added info, the illuminations start around 9:00 p.m. and there are more than 20 of them spread around the city, so it would take at least 2 hours to see all of them.

Posted by
283 posts

Eek! I see now that at the top of the page they have April 30th as last year's starting date. Before I just saw in another place on the site that says April, not a certain date. Oh darn. I wish they'd post this year's dates asap. Thanks for pointing that out.

Posted by
209 posts


I knew nothing about Chartres en lumieres, or the illuminations, until this. Glad to see we can see them, since we're in Chartres for two nights. Merci.

As for your travels, only you can decide whether the lumieres will be more enjoyable than the extra afternoon in Paris. I know what I'd do, but this is your trip.

Posted by
50 posts

Amanda, here's where I got the 2023 dates for the liluminations..

We thought we'd be smart last fall and wait till October to go to the illuminations, since the website said they'd start at 6pm in October due to earlier sunset. That info was incorrect; nothing started till the usual time, 9pm.

We didn't spend the night in Chartres (we were in a B&B west of Chartres) but I think it would be a good idea. It's almost too much to see in one night.

Well, if you can't go this trip, it can go on the list for the next trip, right?

Posted by
283 posts

Crumbs, Yes that was the site I was on I just didn't see the date in the top left corner. I messaged them on FB, hopefully they'll respond with an update for 2023 soon! It looks beautiful, if we can't do it this year then in the future! =)

Posted by
283 posts

In case anyone is interested they responded on FB. No exact date as to this year's start but probably second half of April. They will announce the final dates soon.

Posted by
15 posts

Amanda, if you've not already decided on accommodations, Le Choiseil (sp?) in Amboise is wonderful. I've stayed there twice, in October 1999 and in April 2017. It was still quite chilly at that time in France, but they have a courtyard/patio outside the dining room with the most beautiful wisteria I've ever seen. The rooms were comfortable, the breakfasts were luxurious, and it was within easy walking distance to the center of town and the Castle. We even walked to Clos Luce. Enjoy the Loire!