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Need advice about the wisdom of a late March visit

by smeans2 Online Now Dec 12, 2010 at 4:23 PM

I will be in Paris later in March, and I want to extend the trip to visit Bourges and Chartres (by train). I've discovered I could easily visit at least part of the Loire Valley (by car) en route from Bourges to Chartres, but I have to wonder if this is a crazy idea. I don't expect anyone to predict the weather, but is the area (roughly from Tours to Orleans) likely to be at all rewarding at this time of the year? Perhaps there will be a very early spring :-), but assuming there is not, I would appreciate any thoughts on my sanity. I should confess that while I would want to visit a major chateau or two, this would not be my primary interest--landscape, villages, churches are my things. I'm sure there are better times to visit, but I'm working with the opportunity I have.

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Need advice about the wisdom of a late March visit

    by Beausoleil Online Now Dec 12, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    Hi. We've been there in April and it was fine. It's more rainy and there aren't the lovely flowers in every window you see later in the spring but the countryside is just waking up from winter. There is always the possibility of bad weather but that can happen nearly any time. We ran into snow in southern France in May this past year. If you travel out of season, you need to accept the fact that you may have to deal with less than optimal weather at times and keep your plans a bit flexible.

    If you are driving, base yourself near Tours and you can visit nearly all the famous Loire chateaus easily. Amboise is a great touring base, small, attractive, interesting with Old Town, great chateau and Clos Luce of Da Vinci fame. There are also troglodyte buildings and since the town is fairly small, you can easily drive in and out for touring. We usually stay near Montrichard or in Azay-le-Rideau but they are a bit on the edge of the chateau area you probably want to see.

    The countryside is beautiful and the roads are excellent. Lovely chateaus in the immediate area are Chenonceau, Villandry, Amboise, Blois, Cheverny, Chambord, Chaumont, Ussé, Azay-le-Rideau and Chinon. Not as famous but strikingly medieval is the chateau at Fougèrs-sur-Bièvre. There is the marvelous abbey at Fontevraud and many churches including the cathedrals at Bourges and Chartres (my favorite cathedral anywhere).

    Type some of these places into the VT Search Window above to see what members have written about them. There will be photos, reviews, tips and web links to help you decide.

    If you want to visit villages, you may be interested in the Plus Beaux Villes of France that are small, picturesque villages, many of which are in the Loire. Again, you won't see the wonderful flower displays, but the ancient buildings and streets are lovely even out of season. les-plus-beaux-villages-de-f...

    Enjoy your trip . . . and no, you are not insane. ;^)

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Need advice about the wisdom of a late March visit

    by leics Online Now Dec 12, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    I see no reason at all why a visit to anywhere in France at that time should no be perfectly ok, as long as you pack appropriate clothing 9for warmth and for wet weather). Substantial snowfall which will hinder your driving is highly unlikely, any snow at all is pretty unlikely too (though one can never be certain nowadays!).

    But as you say, no-one can predict the weather and you should be prepared for possible rainy and/or chilly days. You'll still be able to visit the villages and churches etc although wandering in the countryside might not be quite so pleasant in that type of weather.

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  • Re: Need advice about the wisdom of a late March visit

    by houseswapper Online Now Dec 13, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    We visit the Loire each year about this time. It is a jacket type of weather. Rain of course is always an unknown but it is usually very light and usually doesn't inhibit activities. Beausoleil has given a very comprehensive run-down of the lovely places to visit and I would agree with her that Tours as starting point is more suited to seeing all the chateaux in the area.
    I would get the train to Tours and hire a car there do the sightseeing.
    It doesn't matter which direction you point the car you are going to find lovely villages and chateaux. Also explore a little further into the farmland. The scenery is picturepostcard stuff. Depending on the time of year, the fields may be filled with sunflowers, haystacks, Van Gogh scenes. The area around Chinon, Le Bouchard, Richelieu, Chatellerault is very scenic countryside.

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  • al2401's Profile Photo

    Re: Need advice about the wisdom of a late March visit

    by al2401 Online Now Dec 14, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    Churches and villages are much the same regardless of the season - OK summer and spring may lend to more colourful photos. I actually enjoy the early spring for landscapes as bare trees can open up the landscape to an amazing degree

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