I booked an accommodation in Mettray, a small village on the outskirt of the city of Tours through Gite.com, recommended by France Guide, the official France Tourism website.
(Gites or holiday house are available to rent all over France. Offering basic accommodation facility comparable with most hotels, it is cheaper to rent, especially for families. Price range is from EUR 350 - EUR 1,000 plus, depending on high/ low seasons and locations. A good alternative to be considered for long vacations.)
The journey to Loire Valley took about 6 hours from Geneva through France central region. The highway is excellent by any standards but as in Malaysia, tolls charges have to be paid. The countryside was line up with miles and miles of cattle ranch. Wheat and sunflowers fields also dominated the view on the way to Loire Valley.
DAY 1 - DISNEYLAND
I promised my children a visit to Disneyland, so the first day program was solely concentrated on the Mickey Mouse affair. Needless to say, they were quite happy to spend their time there and accumulated a whole lot of Disneyland souvenirs. A lot of people as expected, being at the height of summer and all, but very, very fun. (It is my humble opinion however that Disneyland lack rides, thus the long queue). Regardless, there were still a lot of things to do and explore. We hit all the `lands', watched the Disney's characters concert twice and before we knew it, the day was over.
DAY 2 - THE TOWN OF BOURGES AND CHATEAU DE VALENCAY
Off to the town of Brouges, France about 1 hour drive from Mettray. Ever since reading Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and the highly controversial The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, I wanted to view Gothic architecture and theres one cathedral there in Brouges where I can view the magnificent high ceiling and beautiful stained glasses incorporated in its walls. I was really impressed.
On the way back we stop at Chateau de Valencay for a tour.
DAY 3 - CHATEAU DE CHANONCEAUX AND CHATEAU DE VILLANDRY
Let me say that, sometimes GPS will avoid main roads and gave directions to go through a backroad just because its the calculated route is shorter in distance to the destination. Thats what my GPS did, anyway.
We were on our way to see Chateau de Chanonceaux, when I suddenly realize that we had left the main road at a turn somewhere and ended up being on a narrow back road in the middle of the nowhere with 2 huge wheat harvesting machines heading straight toward us. Cant compete to stay on the road with these 2 huge beasts, so we back up and unceremoniously, let them passed. I swear the French farmer made a mocking, grinning face at us when they drove passed our car.
In GPS we trust? Erkkk, only sometimes!
Chateau de Chanonceaux was impressive to say the least. It was built right across the river Char. Spent the whole morning and had our lunch there.
We then drove to Chateau de Villandry to view its famous medieval garden. The castle itself was a okay, but the garden just took my breath away. Neatly arranged were rows of flowers and plants across a huge compound. I am running out of words to describe it, so take a look at the photos.
DAY 4 - PARIS
Visiting Eiffel Tower, I really think it has lost its charms, no thanks to the horde of souvenirs peddlers at its base. They are so many of them around! Its no an exaggeration to say that their numbers were as many as the visiting tourists. I was surprised when one of them approached and asked me, in Malay "Sudah beli ka?. I just smiled and thought, wow, there must be a lot of of Malaysians who visited Eiffel Tower since I am sure the souvenirs peddler must have picked the language from them.
I chose to walk along the river Seine from Eiffel Tower to Musee du Louvre, enjoying the Paris street scene and dragging my children with me. Thankfully they did not complain since it was quite a distance for them (4.9 km).
We ended our French Holiday visiting the Hard Rock Cafe Paris, a must go place for my love one and me. Yeap, we collect HRC tshirts and souvenirs. (I am a HRC member too!). :)
I would say Paris does have a lot of interesting places to visit and I regret that I dont have enough time to visit it all.
Perhaps thats a reason enough for me to think that a visit to Paris is in order (again) next summer.