Loire Valley Journals

La Loire and Le Loir Valleys

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A travel journal to Loire Valley by Bobbi

Quote: This is a beautiful area, with many historic chateaux and wonderful places to eat and stay. It is also pretty flat, with short distances between towns, making it great for bicycle touring.

La Loire and Le Loir Valleys

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Overview

Quote:
Eat! The food and wine in this region are really fabulous, and if you follow my suggestion and bike it, you can eat everything in sight with no guilt! There is no need to limit yourself to just plain hotels. There are many small chateaux that operate as reasonably-priced bed-and-breakfasts, and we even stayed in one (very elegant one) that had troglodyte caves out back! And, of course, visit the chateaux. Depending on your personal tastes, you may prefer hunting chateaux like Chambord, beautiful chateaux like Chenonceau, or fortressy ones like Amboise. Quick Tips: In case you're biking: the prevailing winds are west to east, and we've had 40 km/h headwinds that can make...Read More
Quote:
I had planned for this hotel to be a bit of a treat before all the nights in a tent on our bike trip--in an historic chateau no less!--and for this, it was a bit of a disappointment. It was fine, the rooms were fine, but it wasn't quite as special as it sounded on paper. For example, they advertise an 11th century dungeon, which had my sons excited. But, the dungeon has been converted into bedrooms (not ours--and they didn't advertise dungeon rooms, or I would have requested them), and therefore it was not available for viewing. We also had dinner at the hotel, which was quite expensive ($30 apiece?) and only okay--my husband's meal was not at all good. There is a swimming p...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

Chateau De Chissay
CHISSAY EN TOURAINE
Tours, France 41400
54-32-32-01

PepperTree at Laurel Point

Hotel | "Camping Le Sabot"

Quote:
This is a nice campground, rather greener than some, right along the Indre River. We often saw swans playing in the river, which made the experience a little special, and also learned to play boules (bocce) on the sandy stretches of the campground. There are free hot showers--but noisy and crowded, and a push of the button only gets you about 5 seconds of water. The toilets are clean, but there is no toilet paper; you have to bring your own (and remember it every time). On the plus side, there is a swimming pool (requires Speedo-type bathing suit, boys!), and it is very close to 'downtown' Azay-le-Rideau and the chateau. In fact, you can see some of the reflection from the Son-et-Lumier...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

PepperTree at Laurel Point
805 Ski Mountain Rd
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738
(865) 430- 3971

Grand Hôtel de l'Abbaye (Le)

Hotel | "Hotel l'Abbaye"

Quote:
This old abbey has been converted into a hotel, and is quite comfortable and rather more interesting than your average hotel. It made a nice change for us, and is elegant in a shabby sort of way, without being very expensive. As its address suggests, the Hotel l'Abbaye is right on the banks of the river (the Loire in this case), with a lovely view overlooking it and an old bridge over the river. It was built in the 17th century, and the accommodations have been created out of the old monks' cells. They are not tiny as this might imply; we found the rooms as spacious as in most hotels in France (which is to say, not huge, but certainly adequate). There about about 17 rooms, and they range in p...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 27, 2000

Grand Hôtel de l'Abbaye (Le)
2 quai de l'Abbaye
Beaugency, France 45190

Hotel Belle Vue

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Hotel

Quote:
The Hotel Bellevue, unlike many of the places we stayed, was very easy to find. Guessing (correctly) that any street named 'quai' would be on the river, we headed down toward the river and found it right away. In fact, their description of their location is 'Entre Loire and Chateau'--between the Loire and the chateau (d'Amboise). This is an attractive little hotel, with striped awnings out front. The rooms were fine, nothing special in either size or decor. The price was 370 F for a double with private bath, including breakfast. The staff speaks some English, though I did have to intercede when one particularly angry American was having some difficulty making himself understo...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 30, 2000

Club Marbella

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Hotel | "Hotel de Beauce"

Quote:
My heart kind of sank when I opened the door to my room here; the bed sagged, the bedspread was threadbare, there was tired shag carpeting--but it was scrupulously clean, very quiet, and I had a great night's sleep. Plus, at 270F for a double with private bath, the price was right. (Breakfast was an additional 30F.) This hotel was also very kind and accommodating to us. We were doing an unsupported bike trip, and needed to unbox our bikes, store the boxes, and rebox them at the end of the week. This hotel agreed readily to store the boxes for us, even though we were only spending one night there at the end. The hotel is quite centrally located in Chateaudun, near a lot of c...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 30, 2000

Club Marbella
Sitio De Calahonda
Marbella, Spain

Hotel Diderot

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Hotel

Quote:
This hotel was in a quiet courtyard, with plenty of parking, on a side street in the city (a small side street, which was a little tricky to find). It was vey quiet and pleasant, though nothing fancy. The cost of a room for two with a private bathroom was 350F, with breakfast an additional 35F apiece.

Hotel Diderot appears to attract a largely British crowd, so English is spoken and spoken well. The staff was very pleasant and helpful (we needed to locate a bike shop to buy some more spare tubes). The location is quite good for exploring the town; the ruins of the chateau are within walking distance, and there are many shops and restaurants nearby.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 30, 2000

Hotel Diderot
4 Rue De Buffon
Chinon, France 37500
33/2 47 93 18 87

Cove at Yarmouth

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Hotel | "Chateau de Chambiers"

Quote:
Mme. Anne Crouan is a lovely woman who runs a bed and breakfast in her family chateau. The chateau itself is in a forest 2.5 km south of the town of Durtal. It is a beautiful setting, obviously very quiet, and the Crouans are very gracious and accommodating. Madame speaks very good English. The cost of one of our rooms was 400F, the other was 600F; both included a private bath; breakfast is included. The rooms were very spacious, and as it was unseasonably chilly and the heat was not yet on, we were given extra blankets to keep us toasty. (These were volunteered; we did not have to ask.) Since we were biking, and did not wish to bike after dark, Mme. Crouan called us a taxi, made a di...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 30, 2000

Cove at Yarmouth
183 Main Street
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
(508) 771-3666

Fairfield Nashville

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Hotel | "Chateau de la Voute"

Quote:
Wow, what a place! 'Bed and breakfast' really doesn't do this justice. Troo is troglodyte heaven, and the garage behind this chateau is in fact made up of the caves. It was a great place to store our bikes. This is by far the most elegant of the places we stayed in the Loire and Loir valleys, and absolutely gorgeous. The rooms were HUGE, and very beautifully decorated. (The fabric in one of our rooms was the same as the curtain fabric in the dining room at St. Andrew's Old Course in Scotland.) The cost of the rooms was 470F for a double, including breakfast. The chateau does not have a restaurant, but there is a GREAT restaurant just a couple doors down, if you want a nice dinner. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 30, 2000

Fairfield Nashville
2415 McGavock Pike
Nashville, Tennessee 37214
(615) 871-4666

Le Cheval Blanc

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Restaurant

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This little bar would be nothing special, except that the publican, Patrice Bruneteau, may be one of the nicest men in the world. My family stopped here, in two separate groups, during a long day of biking. When my son and I arrived and asked for a sandwich, M. Bruneteau came out of the back with two huge baguettes with ham and cheese. Another member of our group stopped in, and she had to finish our sandwiches because they were so big. The bathroom was clean, if small and 'out back.' M. Bruneteau also insisted on giving us some packets of cheese and crackers to take with us when we left. My husband and other son stopped at the same bar (well, there isn't much choice in Dolus le ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 26, 2000

Le Clos Luce

Attraction

Quote:
Le Clos Luce is the house in which Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years after he left Florence and was brought to France by the French king Francois I. It is an attractive home, with exhibits of many of da Vinci's inventions, which makes a visit fascinating. In addition, there is a small gift shop, and if you are touring the Loire Valley by bicycle you MUST buy one of the tee shirts with da Vinci's sketch of a bicycle!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 26, 2000

Chateau d'Amboise

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Attraction

Quote:
The Chateau d'Amboise was one of my family's favorite chateaux. It is interesting for a number of reasons, depending on your tastes. There is a very wide ramp in one section up which horses and carriages could ride to the upper levels of the castle; there are battlements and drawbridges and all the accoutrements of a fortress; Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the small chapel; and the Huguenots were thrown to their deaths from the battlements if your interests are of a bloodthirsty nature. Charles VIII died here from a blow to the head sustained when passing through a low doorway. Many of the rooms are furnished, giving a glimpse into the lives of royalty, especially during the reign of Francois I. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 26, 2000

Chateau de Chenonceau

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Attraction

Quote:
The Chateau de Chenonceau is probably the loveliest and most photographed of the chateaux in the Loire Valley. Known as the chateau of six women (three of whom are very famous), it also has one of the raciest histories. It is the first Renaissance chateau, with a hallway instead of rooms opening directly from each other. It also has the first straight staircase, though the doors opening off the halls are offset so that an enemy would have to zigzag... Henri II gave Chenonceau to his long-time mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who loved living there, and built both a lovely garden and a bridge over the river Cher from the chateau. After Henry's death in 1559, his widow Cathe...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 26, 2000

Chateau d'Usse

Attraction

Quote:
The Chateau d'Usse (there is an accent over the e; this is oossay) is far less grand than many of the chateaux of the Loire, and therefore in some ways more approachable. I find it darling and somewhat fanciful, though some guidebooks describe it as grim. It is claimed that Usse was the inspiration for Perrault's Sleeping Beauty. It stands above the Indre River on flowered terraces.

There is a very nice trompe l'oeil ceiling in the entry of the chateau, but otherwise I found the interior unremarkable--and as this is not a royal chateau, there is not as much historical significance.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 26, 2000

Chateau de Villandry

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Attraction

Quote:
The Chateau de Villandry is not noted for its chateau, which relatively few people tour, but rather for its spectacular gardens which really are a must. The gardens have been restored to their 18th century form, with formal borders enclosing the ornamental plants. The gardens are on three levels. One enters at the kitchen garden level, which is the lowest. It is astonishing how beautiful such a functional garden can be! We marveled at all the lovely vegetables which were cultivated in such a way as to be as beautiful as any flower garden. The flower garden itself is up a level from the kitchen garden, and features a love motif enclosed by formal box borders. One of the enclosure...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2000

Chateau de Langeais

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Attraction

Quote:
This very fortressy chateau was one of my teenaged son's favorites--he who loves knights in shining armor and all things battle-related. There isn't much shining armor here, but it has the massive towers, the holes in the walls for shooting arrows, the moat and drawbridge associated with his ideal of a medieval fortress. Langeais is not a pretty chateau certainly, but it is a very interesting one, not least because it was built all at one time and so retains a consistent character. The furnishings also reflect a single period, the 15th century, which is rather earlier than the period of many of the furnishings seen in other chateaux of the Loire valley. This is where Charles VIII and Anne of...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 8, 2000

Chateau de Langeais
Rue Foulques Nerra
Langeais, Centre 37130
0247967260

Donjon de Loches

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Attraction

Quote:
The medieval walled town of Loches is absolutely lovely, built upon the banks of the river Indre (which, to my mind, is the loveliest of the rivers in this Indre-Cher-Loire region). We approached it on bikes from Dolus-le-Sec and had a magnificent view of the town from above as we approached. We then had a fairly hairy ride with a lot of fast-moving traffic, as we descended into the town. Originally, the stronghold of the dukes of Anjou, the kings of France later used Loches as a prison, especially for traitors. There is both a pleasant old town within the walls, which is well worth a stroll, and a chateau and the infamous donjon above. I think technically the donjon is a keep, not just a du...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2000

Chateau de Chambord

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Attraction

Quote:
The Chateau de Chambord is by far the largest of the chateaux of the Loire--it is immense, with a virtual forest of chimneys and turrets and who knows what else cluttering its roofline. This gives it (to my eye) a somewhat comical appearance, and it is otherwise more large than attractive. But it is certainly impressive when you first glimpse it at the end of the avenue of approach! Built by Francis I in the 16th century primarily as a hunting lodge and showplace, it is neither a fortress like the chateau of Loches nor a pretty residence like the chateau of Chenonceau. It is most famous for its double helix staircase. Chambord is set in a huge forest, with a 20-mile-long wall surrounding the...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 8, 2000

Chateau de Blois

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Attraction

Quote:
The Chateau de Blois was built over long years, from the 13th through the 17th centuries. For this reason, it displays little architectural consistency, though it is certainly not unattractive. There is a feudal castle, a pretty Louis XII wing made of brick as well as the more usual stone, a Francois I wing with a spectacular spiral staircase embedded in its facade, and a classical Gaston d'Orleans wing which is much later in design. Standing in the inner courtyard of the chateau gives a view of all of these wings, and the utter disregard for consistency and symmetry. Inside, we were confronted with tales of Catherine de Medici, Anne of Brittany, Francois I--these folks were everywhe...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2000

Two Ways to Bike it

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Story/Tip

Quote:
We have actually done two bicycle trips in the Loire Valley, in addition to one car trip. The bike trips were more fun, and we saw so much more (you take time to smell the roses, so to speak.) For those of you (like me!) who aren't really bikers, rest assured: you too can do this! I was never on a bicycle with gears until I was 40, and had such a death grip on the handlebars that I was exhausted in a mile--but with a little practice, reached the point where I can happily bike 40 miles a day with no special effort. We have biked the Loire in two very different ways: our first time, my husband and I and two friends did an unsupported trip (i.e., carried our worldly possessions on our b...Read More
Quote:
When we did our unsupported bike trip (that is, on our own), we needed to transport our bicycles to the starting point of our bike trip, Chateaudun. (It is generally a bad idea to bike out of the airport--the roads are invariably very crowded and NO FUN to bike on.) We found a company that was able to provide a van to carry four of us and our four bikes, and it worked perfectly. The transportation was provided by Dunois Voyages, which has offices in Orleans, Chateaudun, Blois, and Joue les Tours. The phone number is Chateaudun (which was our dropoff and pickup point) is 37.44.63.00, fax 37.45.89.29. The cost was 3980F, which is a lot of money, but not too bad divided by four--and consid...Read More