Looking for advice on what to see and do in Loire Valley. Coming from Paris, places to stay, weather and car necessity advice
A guidebook and a review of the Loire Valley tourism websites would be a good place to start. Most tourists are primary interested in the chateaux and vineyards. There are cycling trails. Hot air balloon rides.
Weather depends on what part of the fall. Check the Internet for weather averages for your dates. We were there in early October and had sunny and mild weather ( daytime temps in the mid 20s C.)
We found a car to be necessary in order for independent travel, but there are some local daily tours you could sign up for.
We stayed just outside Amboise, since it was quite central to the places we wanted to see. Stayed at the Chateau de Pray; highly recommend it.
If you want to come and go as you please without being tied to a tour schedule, then rent a car. The chateaux are rather far apart and generally located back from the main roads.
If you have 3 days, I'd recommend a central location like Azay le Rideau. We used that as our base and it worked out great for being able to visit Chinon and Villandry, as well as Chenonceaux (the latter was about an hour's drive each way). We stayed in Hotel Biencourt and absolutely loved it -- would stay there again any time. The hosts were the nicest people you could ever want to meet, the breakfast is delicious, and the property is very charming. It's also easy walking distance from the chateau of Azay le Rideau itself. The town is very small, but it has a great range of places to eat, from very casual to high-end gourmet restaurants.
Agree with the above recommendations to rent a car and visit chateaux. Back in 2014 we did this from a nice base in central Amboise.
Another who agrees with renting a car. We did the valley back in 2004, starting in Paris then down into Spain and coming back up to Paris. A few places we stopped at in France included Chateaus Chambord, Chenonceaux, Azay, plus the towns of Chinon, Blois, and Orlean.
I agree with KBK……a car is a necessity in the Loire Valley to be able to drive from chateau to chateau. WE used Amboise as a base and it was perfect……we stayed at Le Manior Les Minimes in Amboise….what a treat! Don’t forget to see Villandry and its lovely gardens.
As you've heard from the reply's so far, a car is essential. Take the train from Paris to Orleans and pick up a car there.
3 days, 4 nights is best in my opinion.
As mentioned, a guidebook will help you decide which Chateaus and gardens interest you. Locate them on Google Maps, pin them, and plan your daily route.
Be aware all of the Chateaus in the Loire valley now require tickets purchased in advance online for timed entry (see "plan your daily route" above).
Second vote for Amboise and Manoir les Minimes (October 2021), a gem of a place on the edge of Amboise but easy walking distance to the village for dinner or wandering the narrow streets in the evening.
We stayed at Les Peupliers in 2015 and it was a wonderful experience! It's out in the country, so a car is necessary, but we were able to drive to the chateaus from there, and stopped in the beautiful town of Chartres on the way back to Paris. I highly recommend booking dinner at the BnB as it will be an awesome meal. If you can sign up for their cookery class, even better! https://www.lespeupliers-loire.com/
Here's our host's advice on chateaus to see. A car would be very helpful. There's good train service from Paris to various locations. With just three days I'd suggest staying on one base, with more you could split your overnights between a base east of Tours (like Amboise) and one west of Tours (like Chinon), saving driving time each day. A good guidebook will help you a lot, see if your local library has one to peruse before you make any big decisions.
If you enjoy gardens, the International Flower Festival at Chateau Chaumont runs from spring until early November. It was lovely.