If you are still on the chateaux trail, you could try following the Loire through
Vouvray to Blois, taking in Amboise and Chaumont on the way. To make a day of it,
return by crossing the Loire Valley to the river Cher and calling in on the magical
Chenonceaux. Or, as a break from the chateaux, go west from Amboise, towards Tours,
and visit the foremost freshwater aquarium in Europe - the Aquarium du Val de Loire.
Going south and crossing the Loire at Saumur, an hour’s drive takes you to Doué-la-Fontaine,
which has a fine zoo. You can easily combine a visit here with a stop at one of
the troglodyte caves (the best is at Rochmenier), and return via the pretty hill-top
town of Montreuil-Bellay,where you can go canoeing.
A good return route from here is via Fontevraud l’Abbaye (the largest abbey in Europe
with the tomb of Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine). But there is so
much to see here that you'll need a couple of hours... so make a day of it and call
in at the nearby chateau of Montsoreau, recently designated as one of the most beautiful
villages in France. From here it is a short distance to Candes St Martin at the confluence
of the Vienne and the Loire, with a magnificent church, and the Chateau de Brézé,
with unusual moats and a troglodyte cave.
If you fancy a day at the seaside, then head west. But make an early start, because
it will take about three hours to get to La Rochelle - which is a beautiful town.
If you drag yourself away from a sea-food treat, cross the causeway to the Ile de
Ré, with its miles of beaches.An alternative, and a little closer, is to head for
the coast further north than La Rochelle around Les Sables D’Olonne.
Poitiers is about a two hour drive south from the house. Plenty to do and see here
- it has been an important town from Roman times - but you really need to make time
to visit the space-age centre of the Futuroscope on its northern outskirts.
If you like theme parks with a difference, then Puy du Fou won’t disappoint - the
second most visited attraction in France after Eurodisney - it is located south of
Cholet (about 1½ hours drive from La Carrière).
Paris is easy to visit for a day trip by train - the best service is from Tours or
Tours St Pierre (for the TGV) for a journey of less than two hours to the centre
of Paris - allow another hour if you go from Saumur.