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needed: "quaint" Loire valley spots

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Washington DC
posts: 3
needed: "quaint" Loire valley spots

I am heading to Loire Valley in a couple weeks time for 2-3 days with my finace and a friend. we will have a car and would like anyone's suggestions on some of the more quaint villages and areas to see/ meander through. we are not interested in large touristy areas/cities...maybe difficult to avoid though. we wil visit some of the larger wine chateaux but are also interested in some of the small "mom and pop" places off the beaten path...any ideas are welcomed! specific chateaux, villages, or perhaps an "area" or two ... thanks in advance!

los angeles, CA
posts: 45
reviews: 4
1. Re: needed: "quaint" Loire valley spots

Tophercc:

I am going to Paris and the Loire Valley in July (my first trip). My husband and I are driving out to Loire and staying at the Chateau des Ormeaux in the town of Amboise (between Tours and Blois). We wanted a small, less touristy place as well.

The reviews for the Chateau have been amazing - look it up on Trip advisor. Here is a website for it: www.jpmoser.com/chateaudesormeaux.html.

Like I said, I haven't been there, but just wanted to throw it out to you as a suggestion.

Ohio, USA
posts: 19,030
reviews: 4
2. Re: needed: "quaint" Loire valley spots

The chateaux of the Loire valley are not wine chateaux, but rather centuries old fortresses (a few of them) or palaces, most of which belonged to the French crown.

There are at least a couple of dozen of them that are worth visiting, and all of them are very popular tourist destinations. Since you have only a few days, you will have to be selective.

My order of preference would be Chenonceau, Blois, Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Amboise, Cheverny, Chinon, Langeais, Usse, Chambord, Chaumont. But the order is a very personal thing and others would doubtless have different preferences.

As for the wine areas, the red wines of the Loire valley come from around Chinon and around Bourgueuil, acroos the Loire from Chinon. The whites are grown around Vouvray and Montlouis.

There is really only one large city in the area, Tours, which is interesting anough. Blois is the next largest town, with a population of about 50,000 at a guess. Many of these places are interesting, including Amboise, and most of the rest, apart from Chinon are really just little villages close to the chateau. (Chambord is set in the middle of a large park, once the king's private hunt.)

As for finding the "quaint" spots, my suggestion is that you get a good map, which you will need anyway. Michelin No. 232 (I'm typing from memory so I hope that is right) Pays de la Loire, 1:200 000 is your best bet. Get off the autoroutes and as far as possible main (red) roads onto the minor (yellow and white) roads. Follow especially the ones bordered with green on the map as those are the most scenic. And you will find your own favorite villages and picnic spots and so on.

Two general suggestions: the valley of the Cher is lovely, and less busy than the valley of the Loire. And Loches and Valencay, south of the main Loire tourist area are worth a visit, as is the countryside around them. Chinon is a pleasant small town with some good restaurants, but the Loire valley is famous for its gastronomy as much as its chateaux, or should be...

Have a great trip!

Saumur, France
posts: 3
reviews: 7
3. Re: needed: "quaint" Loire valley spots

If you head out of Saumur to La Puy Notre Dame there are many small wine producers in this area willing to offer tastings and you can walk through the vineyards to Les Caves where you should try and visit the wine caves of Vieux Tuffeau. There is a fantastic chateau at Montreuil-Bellay and a beautiful walk along the river

Washington DC
posts: 3
4. Re: needed: "quaint" Loire valley spots

Thank you very much for your suggestions!