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Loire Valley

NoSpin

10+ Posts
I read such good information in the Dordogne thread, I thought I would start a Loire Valley thread. After 5 days in the Dordogne, my wife and I are spending 5 days in Amboise. There is so much to see and do there that I know we will only scratch the surface. I thought I would open this thread to tips, recommendations, must do's, must stay aways and whatever other info.

We will be there from May 29 until June 3rd when we leave for Normandy. We have 7 days planned in Normandy as it will be the 75th anniversary of D-Day. There will be all sorts of activities and reenactments. We are all set for that part since I bought tickets and tours well in advance. I actually reserved the hotel back in August last year and most places were already booked!
 

NoSpin

10+ Posts
Well we’re back and since there’s a lack of experience here with the Loire Valley, I’ll relay our experience. Our base for 5 days was Amboise.

We stayed at Le Vieux Manoir. We found this through Trip Advisor, but later I also found it recommended in Rick Steves book. We thoroughly enjoyed the time there. It is a beautiful property (once you are inside the high walls) and was immaculately maintained. The only caveat I would have is the owners, Gloria and Bob, are going to be selling the place, so things may change. Bob is not in good health and Gloria also has some health issues, but she is a hoot to sit and converse with!

Of course the thing to do in the Loire Valley is visit chateaus. We visited 7 of them, but there are more. Basically we did most of the chateaus east of Amboise. Do not plan to do more than 2 a day and in some cases you may need a whole day to do one depending on your interests. For example, the largest is Chambord. You can spend a lot of time on the grounds as well as inside. They also have a separate admission show with birds of prey, horse riding and skits. Steves writes to skip this, but we found it very entertaining and we don’t understand French so some of the skits weren’t as meaningful.

Next to Chambord, the most impactful chateau was Chenonceau. This is the most picturesque since it spans the river Cher. The interior was the most furnished of all the chateaus we visited as many of these chateaus were ransacked throughout their history. In the case of Chambord and some others, most of the furniture was made to be disassembled and taken away when the king/owner left.

If you are a dog lover, definitely visit Chateau Cheverny. Be there at 11:30 AM to watch the feeding of some 80 hounds. Tip: get there a little early and stand at the far right of the pen. Once the caretaker herds them onto the roof of the doghouse, move to the yard behind the doghouse, this is where they will be fed. This chateau is also nicely furnished

If you have kids definitely take them to Le Chateau du Clos Luce and the adjoining park. It was the last residence of Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, if only adults are in your party, still go there. In the chateau are drawings and models of da Vinci’s inventions. In the park are life size models of those inventions. It’s a short, but uphill walk from the Chateau Royal Amboise.

Before you visit any chateaus, go to the tourist office in Amboise and buy your tickets in advance. You will save time in lines and a few dollars when you get a package.

As far as restaurants, you can’t go too wrong, although generally avoid the ones on Place Michel Debre which runs along the Chateau Amboise. There are two exceptions. Chez Bruno is very good and for desserts and ice cream definitely stop at Bigot. We dined at L’Ecluse, L’Alliance and L’Ancree des Artistes, all are recommended. Also on Sunday there is a huge market along the river.
 

Mark

100+ Posts
Don't know how I missed your original post.
I would have added among others you already mentioned.
Villandry, Azay le Rideau and Amboise castle.
Another note this is just for Touraine
 

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