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Im planning a trip to france next year and trying to make an itinerary. My goal is to visit Versailles and the Chateaus in the Loire valley. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions I'm so overwhelmed? Feel free to share your itinerary.

Posted by
6646 posts

How much time will you have? How will you be traveling - train or rental car?

Posted by
616 posts

We stayed in Amboise 2 nights (had a car and drove in from Normandy). While there we saw the Amboise chateau as well as Chenonceau, Chambord and Chiverny. We found Amboise to be a nice size place to explore, shop, buy picnic food, and very good location to see the other chateau. I would go back in a heartbeat!

Posted by
2916 posts

The ones padams mentions are all worth seeing. There are hundreds more, but those are right at the top of the list. Others that come to mind are Ussé, Azay-le-Rideau and Saumur.

Posted by
2 posts

We are open to all suggestions,
Will be staying a week and a half I was thinking we would probably need to rent a car since
Many chateaus are in rural areas.

Posted by
2973 posts

To visit Versailles, if you are staying in Paris you can easily do it as a day trip by train.

Renting a car is definitely a good idea for visiting the Loire Valley since many chateaux are not near public transportation. I'd recommend picking up your rental at Orly airport, since it's right by the A10 Autoroute -- your main route to the Loire region.

Since you'll have a week and a half, consider two Loire bases for a few nights each, one in the east and one in the west. In the west I can recommend the Hotel Biencourt in Azay-le-Rideau, which has wonderful helpful innkeepers and is just a stone's throw from that town's chateau.

The RS guide to France describes the area very well.

Posted by
1 posts

There is a TGV gare station: Vendome Villiers which is only 42 minutes from Paris, [ info about the Loire Valley 1

Posted by
809 posts

We spent 9 days in the Loire valley in 2014 and had a great, relaxed visit. We started in the west, staying at Hotel de Biencourt [which has already been recommended and I warmly second] and had great meals at a couple of restaurants just down the street from there. From there, we visited Chinon and Fontevraud. Then we [mom and I plus my sister and BIL] moved to a gite in La Croix en Touraine, a little south of Amboise; we rented it for a week because it was so inexpensive but actually only stayed 5 days. From there we visited Langeais, Loches, Amboise, Clos Lucé, Blois, and Chenonceaux. For our last 2 nights, we moved to Chambres La Flanerie in Cour de Cheverny and visited Chambord and Cheverny. We had plans for a few more chateaux but just didn't get to them.

We did rent a car for this trip. Since mom turned 87 on this trip we wanted to make things easy so spent a night at CDG after our flight from the US, then picked up the car and drove to the Chantier de Guédelon to see the work there - they are constructing a chateau using 13th century plans, methods, and materials. It was a great start to our visit!

We were very pleased with the whole trip. It was fun having our own rented cottage for a while in the middle of the trip; we stocked up on groceries at the local supermarket so we could dine at home, and walked in to the boulangerie every morning to pick up breakfast treats.

I had read Ina Caro's book The Road from the Past in preparation and essentially followed her plan for visiting the chateaux in chronological order, to see how they developed over centuries; it was nice to have the time to do that instead of having to pack things in and see whatever was closest. Sounds like you'll have a good length of time for this trip, too. You could do what we did and then see Versailles at the end to keep things in chronological order, dropping your car in/near Versailles; just note that it is generally not advisable to do much driving immediately after a transatlantic flight. I was 59 at the time and sure glad I had a good night's sleep before fighting the CDG/Paris traffic to get to our first stop.

And I know what you mean about being overwhelmed! Just remember that there are many wonderful options, and whatever you decide you'll have a fabulous, memorable trip. Happy planning!

Posted by
27 posts

This last September we rented a car and stayed 5 nights in the Loire valley. We stayed in two very different Chateaux. The first one was south of Amboise. Stopped to see Villandry and Amboise along the way. Chateaux del La Celle-Guenand. A work of love in progress! Stephen the owner is English and has been lovingly restoring this Chateaux. The property is in a very rural location. But he offers dinner prepared by the cooking school. Absolutely amazing food! We did day trips driving to see Chambord , Chenonceau the market in Loches! The other Chateaux was Chateaux de Prye. Located southeast of Nevers. This one has been maintained and owned in the same family for 9 generations. Magdalena is a most gracious host. Be prepared for driving estimates to be twice as long. These are long winding roads and lots to stop and see on the way.

Posted by
5667 posts

All good advice above. You might consider taking the RER to Versailles and renting the car there, or renting elsewhere and returning the car to Versailles so you see its chateau, built later, last.

In the Loire, consider basing in two towns, one east and one west of Tours, so you can dart between chateaux without having to deal with the big city. But give Tours some time too, even though RS doesn't.

Besides many of the sights others mentioned, we enjoyed the medieval city of Loches, with Roman artifacts, a massive medieval keep, and a Renaissance chateau.