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Best town to base our stay?

Napa Valley, CA
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Best town to base our stay?

We are in the beginning planning stages of our next trip to Paris and surroundings. Our rough plan is to fly into Paris, train to the Loire Valley where we will rent a car. We would like to spend 3-4 days in the Loire then drive to Normandy. We want to see the D-Day beaches and Bayeaux spending about 2-3 days there. Would also love to see St. Malo and St. Michel so perhaps on our way to Normandy we could do a one night stay somewhere there.

My primary question is which town should we base our stay in the Loire? We will have a car. We prefer B & B's and smaller hotels and are open to the idea of staying in a chateau. Then which town is best for a 2-3 night stay close to the Normandy sights? Also, will we be able to return the rental car in Normandy before taking a train back to Paris? We would then spend about 2 weeks in Paris. We plan this trip for the end of August into Sept. Thank you.

Essex
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1. Re: Best town to base our stay?

You have said much about what you want to do in Normandy.

You have hardly said anything about what you want to do in the Loire - please give us some clues!!

Bellflower...
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2. Re: Best town to base our stay?

You may return the car in Normandy; it depends on your arrangement with the rental company.

Paris, France
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3. Re: Best town to base our stay?

Contact Autoeurope for a rental quote. Most of their arrangements allow for free one way drop off within France (except with Avis which usually will charge for this).

www.autoeurope.com

If you plan on spending any of the month of September in Paris, now would not be too early to make hotel reservations. September is the busiest hotel month of the year.

For basing oneself in the Loire Valley I might recommend:

1. The Cheval Blanc in the small village of Bléré, between Chenonceau and Tours. This hotel/restaurant changed hands in early 2008 with the long-time owners retiring. Under the new owners, (Hélène et Fabrice Tavernier) the service is reportedly much more efficient but their culinary reputation is yet to be established. During the week (Tuesday to Friday) two courses (entrée and main dish) are €22 with a €7 supplement for dessert. Despite a change of owners, I still find this location worth considering as a place to base oneself.

2. Between Blois and Tours

Auberge de Launay

in a beautiful setting and a wonderful restaurant

http://www.aubergedelaunay.com/

Near Chenonceaux:

3. Le Bon Laboureur

http://www.bonlaboureur.com/

4. La Roseraie – Hôtel/Restaurant

http://www.hotel-chenonceau.com/

5. Hostel du Roy

in Chenonceaux

http://www.hostelduroy.com/

Anywhere near the town of Loches. It´s a bit south but overall it makes a good base.

You might also check the TA list of hotels/chambres d´hôtes found in the upper left side of the Loire Valley Forum page.

Napa Valley, CA
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4. Re: Best town to base our stay?

Sorry for my vagueness. We are just beginning our research and are not clear on which chateaux we want to see, which wineries, which areas for biking, etc. I have read that some people use 2 bases in the Loire, one in the west and one in the east. We prefer to pick one town and drive to the places we want to see. Once I have a better idea of which chateaux are a priority I guess I will get more suggestions for a base. So for now I guess my question is...if one were looking to visit 2-3 chateaux, do some bike riding and wine tasting, and wanted to stay 3-4 days in the Loire Valley is there a favorite or recommended town that would make a good base location. A town that would have some charm, restaurants, and a few B & B's or small hotels. I know there are probably many that fit the bill...just looking for personal recommendations.

Napa Valley, CA
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5. Re: Best town to base our stay?

Luckily we are planning this trip for August and Sept. of 2013 so I will be sure to make reservations in plenty of time!

Essex
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6. Re: Best town to base our stay?

This website should help you then, with your research:

http://www.chateaux-de-la-loire.fr/

No-one can TELL you which Chateaux are best - it depends on YOUR taste, but at least you can look here and make some 'picks'

Perhaps then, you will be a bit clearer on where to stay, too.

Sarastro's recommendations are usually excellent, so from the list of potential accommodations he has given, I'm sure you would find something to suit!

Loire Valley
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7. Re: Best town to base our stay?

Chenonceau is a difficult place to be a tourist - far too expensive and absolutly heaving during the season. I have had some of the dullest meals of my life in Chenonceaux, which is why for food we usually travel to Montrichard if we are in teh area. I would chew off one of my own arms before eating at Hostel du Roy in Chenonceaux.

Napa Valley, CA
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8. Re: Best town to base our stay?

Wizard, please do not go that far! I will keep all your comments in mind. Since we will have a car I will be looking at Amboise or Loches for our base for 4-5 nights. I will continue doing research to see which chateaux we want to visit. In addition we will want to rent bikes one day, go wine tasting, and have time just to wander the country roads discovering things as they come. You have al been very helpful. Keep the Loire Valley suggestions coming, especially for the two towns mentioned above. Thanks!

Fairbanks, Alaska
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9. Re: Best town to base our stay?

We stayed at Chenonceaux last June and would stay there again. I wanted to eat dinner at the Bon Laboureur and we prefer not to drive after dinner so that we don't have to worry about drinking. The meal was the best of our three weeks in France (and we had several wonderful meals); I regret that we didn't eat there every night of our stay.

My other criteria for choosing our base was that Chenonceau was the only chateau doing a sound/light thing at night while we were there. It was definitely worthwhile, even though it is different from the other such shows. You might want to check the dates of the Amboise son et lumiere show.

Another advantage of staying close is that we could visit Chenonceau when it first opened in the morning and it was not at all crowded.

We like gardens, so we also visited Villandry (and Azay le Rideau nearby), and the garden festival at Chaumont.

We also did some wine-tasting. Here's a link to my trip report: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187196-i847-k4634…

Some planning considerations: I planned our trip one year in advance, and found that some smaller hotels don't take reservations until January for the calendar year. La Roseraie was not taking bookings when I inquired for our trip last year. (I had the same experience with a B&B in Languedoc for our trip this year.)

Also, Sunday can be a difficult day to pick up or return a rental car, so be sure to check the hours of the car rental agencies if you are traveling on the weekend. We considered driving to Normandy, and I wanted to see Honfleur and then return the car in Rouen, and that wasn't possible on a Sunday.

If you are driving back to Paris, you might consider stopping at Monet's garden at Giverny (near Vernon) on the way.

Have fun planning!

Cumeray a Gennes
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10. Re: Best town to base our stay?

I would base myself in Saumur - small market town pretty much in the middle. Then you can go East to Villandry, Tours, Amboise for chateaux and are also in the middle of vineyards Saumur Champigny, the sparkling producers, and can drive a little further West to explore the hills of the Coteaux du Layon, Anjou and Savennieres appellations and East to visit Chinon and Bourgueil.

A sweet b & b in Saumur is Le Patio - quaint and charming - we stayed there and loved it.

http://www.lepatiosaumur.fr/

A suggestion for Normany afterwards is this gite run by English archeologist Thomas

http://luxurynormandygite.com/

Hope this helps - do ask for further advice if needed - I live here in the Loire between Angers & Saumur

Edited: 27 January 2012, 21:48
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