We are traveling with friends to Paris and spending several days there. My husband and I would like to explore more of France. We have 5 days until we have to hop a plane back to the states. Wanting to spend a full day exploring French castles and full day touring wineries. Those are the only "musts." We plan to rent a car in Paris and drive so we can stop and enjoy as we want. Don't want to feel rushed or hop around so we would like to stay in one hotel and take day trips or tours. Any thoughts on regions, tours, hotels and what airport to leave from? Thought about Loire Valley.
Amy . I would take the train to Tours from Paris, then rent a car there and enjoy the Loire Valley for a few days, there are of course many chateaus to visit, but also several wineries that offer "tastings" . Amboise is a lovely base, but I also found this place , we were going to stay there this summer but ill relative and had to cancel.. but look at website. www.hotel-chenonceau.com/
The best castles are in the Loire. You could stay in Amboise and see many castles and do some wine tasting/touring in the area. Probably easiest/cheapest to return to Paris to fly home from there. One other option in the Burgundy area. Lots of wineries, but not the best castles. Beaune or anywhere along the wine route to Dijon would be a good place to stay. There is a lot of stuff to see in the area with a car - Abbey de Fontenay, Vezelay, Semur-en-Auxois come first to my mind. Again, recommend returning to Paris to fly back.
There are a few trains that go directly to to Charles deGaulle from Amboise (in the Loire) and Dijon (in Burgundy) bypassing Paris. Both are quicker than driving. So you could plan to get to the airport that way, if you choose either region to explore. Local trains (e.g. from Beaune) connect easily.
Stay in the Loire Valley and have a great time. Tours makes a good base.
I too would recommend the Loire Valley. I also support completely the idea of taking the train to the rental car & base you choose for exploring the area. However, I would not stay in Amboise or Tours itself, but I'd pick a B&B or hotel in one of the smaller villages, such as the one recommended above, along the Loire or Cher rivers.