For our next installment in our “Getting There!” series, we are focusing on the beautiful Loire Valley region southwest of Paris. Because this region holds all the natural beauty of the French countryside while still being close to Paris, it has long been a favorite vacation spot for nobles and royalty. In the following post we will cover the different options you have to get there…don’t worry, they have evolved since the days of horse drawn carriages.
Introduction to the Loire Valley
Located south of Paris in central France, the Loire Valley encompasses about 800 square kilometers along the central part of the Loire River. Being close to Paris means that this region in central France is full of grand architectural relics of the aristocracy and nobility from centuries past. With its vineyards, orchards, and castles, the region holds all the extraordinary riches of the city while still maintaining a relaxing country charm. The valley’s emphasis on spectacular also carries over from its scenery and architecture to its cuisine. Fresh trout and salmon, countless varieties of goat cheese, and mushrooms from the Saumur caves (the world’s largest mushroom producer) make meals taste like how the chateaux look. On all of our cycling tours in the Loire Valley we make the most of the virtually traffic-free bike route “La Loire a Velo”, giving you an authentic aristocratic experience.
- Train from Paris
Whether you choose to start your holiday visiting the City of Light before heading south to see all the wonders of the countryside or you choose to skip the city, you can easily get from Paris to your destination in the Loire Valley.
To Blois – The starting city for our “Castles of Love” and “Loire Jewels” tours, you can get to this aristocratic town dominated by its majestic Renaissance castle with a direct train from Paris that only takes an 1 hour 25 minutes. This train runs on Intercité lines (a bit slower than France’s high speed TGV lines but slightly faster than the regional TER lines) and leaves from Paris’s Gare d’Austerlitz. You have the option of more frequent trains departing from Montparnasse station that generally have one connection to reach Blois or there is an option to take a train from the Charles-de-Gaulle airport train station. Besides the direct train, most other trains to Blois take between 2 – 2.5 hours and have one stop. Prices for tickets can range from 19 euros for the Intercité trains to 35+ euros for TGV and TER trains depending on the season and time of purchase. You can check routes, times and prices for trains at Voyages-SNCF (in French) or TGV-Europe (in English).
To Tours – To reach the starting city for our “Like Royals” tour, you can find several direct trains from Paris to Tours each day. They take anywhere from an 1 hour 15 minutes with a TGV and/or TER train to over 2 hours with the Intercité trains. Most of the trains to Tours leave from the Paris Montparnasse station, but you can also find trains from the Charles-de-Gaulle airport train station; however, these generally have at least one connection. Again you can check routes, times and prices for trains at Voyages-SNCF or TGV-Europe.
If you are heading straight to the Loire Valley upon arriving in France, you have various options to get from Charles-de-Gaulle airport (Roissy) to Paris’ Austerlitz or Montparnasse. You can use Paris public transport, Air France shuttle bus, or private taxis. If you fly into Orly Airport, line 1 of the Air France shuttle bus will take you directly to the Montparnasse station.
- Fly into Tours Airport
Tours has its own local airport that is serviced by Ryan Air flights. Because the airport has regular flights from London-Stansted, Manchester, and Dublin, flying directly into Tours may be a good option if you are traveling from the UK. However, if you are coming from outside Europe you will likely have to fly into another major airport then transfer to Tours. The Tours airport is located about 7 km northeast of the city center. For less than 5 euros there is a bus to the center of the city that takes around 20 minutes or you can take a taxi directly to your destination for 15 to 30 euros.
• Voyages-SNCF (French) http://www.voyages-sncf.com/
• TGV-Europe http://www.tgv-europe.com/en/
• Paris Public Transportation http://www.ratp.fr/en/
• Tours Airport http://www.tours.aeroport.fr/
• France Travel Guide http://www.francetravelguide.com/getting-from-paris-to-the-loire-valley.html
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