Everyone wants to go to Paris. But what if you want to spend a day not in Paris but somewhere else in France. A change of pace. A quick train trip to Tours could be just what you’re after.
Getting there is easy. You could drive, take a bus tour or take a train. We considered taking a bus tour to Tours but we looked at the times and decided we didn’t want to be confined to a long road trip on a big bus – the train was perfect.
Depending on the time of year, the chateâux opening times differ. Some chateâux are not open in winter but the main ones are so don’t fear that you’ll miss out on your royal French experience.
Here’s a snapshot of what to do:
- Les Chateâux. Before embarking on your Tours adventure, research the chateaux in the region, their hours of operation, their history and what makes them interesting.
- Transport to the Chateâux. Contact the Office de Tourisme de Tours Val de Loire http://www.tours-tourisme.fr/ Email the Tourism Office and enquire about transport options to the chateaux for tourists. Book and pay for your tickets. Check out Touraine Evasion (tourevasion.com).
- Paris to Tours. Once you have booked your seats on the mini-bus, book the TVG train. We caught the Paris Montparnasse 6.41am train and arrived in Tours at 7.57am. Note: there is one connection. We reserved and paid for our seats on the TGV three months in advance. We recommend you do so too. The TGV stops at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. There is a 5-minute shuttle train between Tours Gare and Saint-Pierre-des-Corps which runs about every 10 minutes.
- Tours Tourism Office: you will be required to meet at the tourism office which is only a short walk from the train station. It’s here you will check in and meet your driver ready for your chateâux adventure.
- Entry to each chateâu: pay on arrival. You have allocated time to wander freely around the gardens and throughout the chateâux. Prices vary but when we were there, entry fees per person were: Amboise 15 euro; Close Luc 12.50 euro; Chenonceau 13 euro; Chambord 11 euro. Cheverny was closed when we visited in November.
Amboise: built in the Italian style which was new to the Loire Valley at the time. Look for: Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb in the chapel of Saint-Hubert, in the grounds of the chateau.
Clos Lucé: Leonardo da Vinci made Manoir du Clos Lucé his final home. Look for: in the basement are several impressive working models of Leonardo’s designs. When wandering around the beautifully manicured garden you will discover a special exhibition room featuring more models of his remarkable designs. There’s also working models in the landscape park.
Chenonceau: the history of this magnificent chateâu sparks one’s imagination. It is known as the Ladies’ Chateâu because of the women who lived there and the changes they each made to the building during their residencies. Look for: the 60-metre long gallery with its chalk and slate tiled floor. (image below)
Chambord: one of the Loire’s most recognisable châteaux for its distinctive design featuring 800 sculpted columns, 11 different towers and 3 types of chimneys. In all there are 282 fireplaces! Look for: the open double spiral staircase, the centrepiece of the chateâu.
Our mini bus and driver were booked through Touraine Evasion (www.tourevasion.com) We highly recommend.
Departure from Tourism Office: 9.30am
Clos Luce 45min
Amboise 1hr ¼
Lunch at your convenience in Amboise 1 hr
Chambord 1hr ½
Chenonceau 1h ½
Return to Tourism Office: 6.46pm
Full day tour about 54 euro per person
Note: prices may vary at the time of booking
Monty and Me travelled to Tours in November 2013.