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Loire Valley

Lisa in Ottawa

500+ Posts
We have a wedding in Tours for August 30th. We thought we would tour the area before going to the U.K. and beginning our 3 month stay in Oxford.

Questions: Suggestions for Loire. Where to base besides Tours. More interested in countryside than chateaux. Walking and cycling.

Ideas of how to get to Oxford from Tours.
 

Parigi

100+ Posts
We have a wedding in Tours for August 30th. We thought we would tour the area before going to the U.K. and beginning our 3 month stay in Oxford.

Questions: Suggestions for Loire. Where to base besides Tours. More interested in countryside than chateaux. Walking and cycling.

Ideas of how to get to Oxford from Tours.
My fave base in the Loire is Chinon, a small, well preserved old town not far from several of the most beautiful castles like Villandry, Azay le Rideau, Langeais, etc. And there is a cycling route between Villandry and Azay, plus the breathtaking Fontevraud Abbey. The town of Chinon is also surrounded by beautiful vineyards and troglodyte hamlets.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
I liked Chinon too. I burned out on Chateaux after visiting two of them. August is going to be busy. We were there in July and many places were packed with visitors. Have you considered going north to southern Normandy or north west to Brittany? But for both those areas you probably need a car.

When we visited the Loire from the UK a few years ago, we flew in and out of Paris (Bristol - Paris). You could fly Paris to Heathrow and then take the train to Oxford (bus service to Reading, train to Oxford - all booked via thetrainline I think). Or take the train - but you would change in Paris (where you might change stations via the Metro to get to Paris Nord where you get the Eurostar) and London (underground from St Pancras to Paddington, then train to Oxford).
 
Alternatively, there is a direct TGV from Paris Roissy airport to Tours. If you get Château overkill and it is too crowded, you might consider renting a car and driving just 20 or so miles North, into the region of the "small Loir" river, spelled without an e, and running parallel to the major Loire. The countryside is buccolic, quaint villages with romanesque chapels, very much France the way it used to be 50 some years ago. Small towns such as Vendôme, Poncé, Montoire, Lavardin...
 
Regarding the transport, I agree with Pauline, the underground from St Pancréas (where the Eurostar from Paris Gare du Nord arrives) to Paddington is easy, I took it mid November coming from Le Mans, just 55 min TGV to Paris Gare Montparnasse. But TGVs also run from Tours to Paris, just over 1 hour ride. In Paris, you will have to take the underground (30 min direct) from Paris Montparnasse to the Gare du Nord.
 

Lisa in Ottawa

500+ Posts
Thanks, helpful. As I said, we have a wedding Aug 30th so will travel for about a week after. I don't want to go too far afield so will stick to the Loire, I think. Sept won't be as busy as Aug but what can you do.
Buccolic countryside is for me not chateau altho I guess I will have to see one.
Marnie, I will check out some of the small villages you mention.

We were thinking of the Eurostar but now think it may be less hassle to simply take a flight from LHR to Paris return and TGV to Tours and Oxford train or bus from THR. But who knows.
 
September will definitely be less busy, with everything still open, so absolutely a perfect time.
If you have a full week, why not check out renting a self catering cottage. Holiday Lettings or French Connections are good websites to check some out. This way, you can enjoy the local farmers' markets. The best one in France, according to the chef of the 3 star restaurant, L'Arpège, is at the foot of the medieval Plantagenet city in Le Mans, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday morning. Amboise has a splendid market on Sunday morning, and Montoire on Saturday.
Regarding the Eurostar versus LHR, I would say it dépends on the price you can get. Sometimes BA or Airfrance have good prices into CDG/Roissy. Aim to fly into Terminal 2, as the TGV départs to Tours from Terminal 2F. You could always take the TGV back to CDG from Le Mans, a bit shorter journey wise.
Hope this helps :)
 

Colleen

10+ Posts
My friend Shannon and I stayed in this wonderful vacation rental near Montrichard in 2007.

The link is to the review she wrote. We had a great stay there, and were lucky enough to be able to attend two fetes during our week: the egg festival - kind of a bust, but they were serving wine at 9am :D, and the bread festival - wonderfully lively and fun with live music.

From there we visited several chateaux, with Chenonceau and Chambord becoming my favorites. The first for its oh so romantic look spanning the river, and its beautiful gardens, and the second for its grandeur and connection to Leonardo da Vinci. I really enjoyed climbing on its roof and the long views of the countryside.

We drove by Chateau de Chaumont a couple of times before stopping - it's a lovely chateau, and less overwhelming in size than others.
 

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