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Driving through the loire valley to Mont Saint Michel

I plan on driving from Paris, visiting Blois and/or Chambord and staying at Chenonceau one night then leaving for Mont Saint Michel the next day. What stops or route would you all suggest for that day (Vilandry, Brittany, ....)

Posted by
4125 posts

The ruined chateau at Fougeres makes a dandy lunch stop between the Loire and MSM. Galletes and cider in a nearby creperie, or bring a picnic.

Posted by
19 posts

Vitre, Fougeres or Rennes all have offerings as stops along the way. I like Vitre because of the fairy-tale castle and the old city section with the very narrow streets.

Posted by
8 posts

We stayed in Amboise for one night basically doing what you are visiting Loire Valley sights before driving out to stay at Mont St. Michel... Amboise is a nice little town with a hilltop chateau above its old city center. Leonardo Davinci lived there and is buried on the grounds of the Chateau. We picked the town to stay in because it was highly recommended by Rick and we found it to be justifiably so. Very near Chenonceau on the way west towards Mont St. Michel. Bayeux to the north of MSM is a popular city to visit that is close to the D-Day beaches. There is a city center trail that is 1.5 miles that takes you by a lot of historical sites. Caen is nearby and on a route that takes you back towards Paris. The city was all but destroyed by bombing during WWII so not many picturesque sights but it has one of the best museum WWII museum's I've had the opportunity to see. Caen's Peace Memorial is well worth seeing if you are driving by very easy to find and get back on the road. Below is a link where Rick has written about it. https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/france/d-day-beaches By the way I have stayed at Mont St. Michel on three separate occasions and have had great experiences each time. If you are just visiting there I reccomend getting there early or later, (around 4). Mid-day the place is thick with tourists and there is not much space to pack that many people in comfortably. My evening experiences after the crowds have thinned and the touristy trinket shops have shuttered their doors have been memorable & the mornings are magical but then the crowds roll in. Have a great trip!

Posted by
42 posts

So far, I am not getting the sense that people linger in the Loire valley on their way to MSM. It looks like about a three hour drive to Fougere, Vitre, or Rennes. You stop for a while there and then drive on to MSM. Is that about right?

Posted by
9110 posts

It's only about four from Chenonceau to MSM. You could spend a couple of hours at both Vitre and Fougeres and still pull into MSM about the time the hords are wandering off. If you only hit one, make it Fougeres. Rennes doesn't offer much.

Posted by
2297 posts

If you are staying in Rennes anyways you can certainly find interesting things to see. However, I would not go out of my way for a stop when there are more interesting choices near by. The shortest route from Chenonceau to Mt Saint Michel would take you through Fougeres anyways. And it does boast one of the largest medieval castle ruins in Europe. Vitre is not far from that route either. We did both towns easily in a daytrip from Mt Saint Michel.

Posted by
4125 posts

David re lingering in the Loire: If I am leaving the Loire to go to MSM, I have already done my lingering. Maybe we do not understand the question.

Posted by
42 posts

RE: last post: My quandary comes from several questions. Although Rick Steves says 1.5 days in the Loire and visiting chaateau is enough, I wondered whether taking a slow drive through the western part of the valley might be preferred to makng stops later. The consensus I am getting is take the time in Fougeres and Vitre. I also note that the Steves Tour goes from the Loire to Brittany before arriving at MSM. No one seems to have taken or recommended that route. I also wondered about going to the areas where they produce cheese , east of MSM.

Posted by
9110 posts

It's really hard to read somebody's mind. Regarding the Loire, all you mentioned was the chateau country. The Loire must be a thousand kilometers long. You know it starts about halfway between Lyon and Avignon, right? You also know about the troglodyte clusters in the western Loire as well, we'd presume? Do you have any interest in its palaeolithic history? In the WW II history of Saint-Nazaire? Next you jump to Brittany, based, apparently on a single guidebook that, when if first came out, only mentioned Dinan and has finally come to reflect that a place called Carnac exists. It still hasn't acknowledged that there's anything of merit on the Brest peninsuala. You're probably going to Normandy and skipping most everything of that area except the coastal and near-coastal war sites. Do you have any interest in the WW II stuff of Brest and St Malo? Surely you're aware of the giant menhir at Dol-de-Bretagne? You metioned Vitre and Fougeres. If that's your theme, maybe you'd get a chuckle out of the fake history of Falaise. Since there's been another Normandy shift, maybe you'd lke to take a peek at the abbey where William the Conqueror exploded? I'm the dumb one. There's a couple of people here that can rip your socks off with their knowledge of the area - - stuff that hasn't made it into a single guidebook, probably. There's quite a body of thought that might even suggest that you're sacrificing some excellent areas in Centre, Pays de la Loire, and Brittany in favor of a bunch of well-tromped, fancy houses that have only passing merit because of their cost. We've got to take our cues from what you ask. You're paying for the expedition. Pick our minds, but give us a starting point.

Posted by
9110 posts

As for the cheese business, the only places I've come across in the last few years are those where you walk through a glassed-in gallery, catch a glimpse of an industrial process, and wind up in a cheese store at the end - - kind of like visiting a distillery. I haven't seen a small place where you can get up against the action in years. They might exist, beats me. But once you get to MSM, that's Normandy (not Brittany) all the way to the Somme. Regardless, the best-known one is probably in Camembert about thirty miles southeast of Caen (a bit off your path). I forget who owns it (President?), but they stiff you a few euro to go through.

Posted by
42 posts

You've given me something to chew on, Ed.

Posted by
9110 posts

It just depends on what you want to see and you can't decide until you know what's out there - - and it ain't all in the books. Over the years, I've seen most of the chateaux, maybe. Chenonceau I can remember because of the way it's sited over the water. The rest have all fuzzed together to the point that I have to stare at a picture of the exterior to remember which one it is. I'd have not a prayer of distinguishing interior pictures. I vividly remember brailling my way to Pointe de Corsen in a horrible storm just to say Id been there. Or a weekend in La Roche Bernard after three weeks of banging my head against bureaucracy. Or wandering Concarneau just as the sun was getting ready to come up. I don't know how many times I've stood in the middle of the allignments at Carnac scratching my tail and wondering why anybody would even think of going to Stonehenge. There's a lot out there. Good luck.

Posted by
9110 posts

Uh, Cromeleque Dos Almendres is different too. So is Avebury. And the West Kennet Long Barrow. And the dolmen at Sant Pere de Rodes. And Tiwanaku. And Gochang looks a lot like some of the stuff in Wales - - go noodle that one and try to connect the dots. But nobody, not nobody, has a pile of twenty-five hundred menhirs.

Posted by
4125 posts

Okay, now I REALLY do not understand the question. My Fougeres suggestion was just about a pleasant lunch stop enroute, by the way. I wouldn't plan a trip around it.

Posted by
42 posts

I love the way people take such thought in their replies. As far as I can tell, this trip offers, like so much of France, an embarrassment of riches. Carnac looks interesting, but I have to weigh that against the amount of driving I will have to do to get there. I did not have the inclination to spend more time at Chateau, but was open to it if enough people felt strongly about it. Fougeres or Vitres seem like picturesque places to stop for lunch and wander around. I don't think either of them will change my life or make them particularly memorable -- an experience does that. It's just hard to have an experience when you are driving a car.