I have to be honest and say that I really had never heard of this place before I planned for this trip. In fact, had my friend Lorenzo (from Rome) not suggested Tours, I would have missed out on something really wonderful! In fact, I had initially wanted to spend more time in Switzerland, but as he said, there is nothing but “cows, mountains and chocolates” – his words, not mine – I, in hindsight, quite wisely followed his advice.
What are the main attractions here? Well, lots and lots of medieval castles and chateaus! Most (mainly the ones belonging to the royal family directly), such as Chambord and Amboise, have been turned into museums, while some (mainly the properties of prominent officials in the French court) are still in private hands – but portions are open to the public, such as Cheverny with its large pack of hunting dogs. If you are a lover of history, this is definitely the place to be. The Loire Valley is the home to Leonardo da Vinci in the final days of his life; Catherine Medici of the Medici family in relation to the Renaissance movement was also active in this area. The end of the prominence of this region also marked the shift of royal power towards Paris.
Finally, to get around, from personal experience it was quite easily to find a comfortable hotel for about AU$15 per night, shared bathroom, very close to the station. There were many day-tours to the various castles to choose from; Amboise itself is reachable by train, although you should always check the departure time of the last train.