I wanted to hit some highlights of the city to refresh my memory so I planned a self-guided walking tour for each of those days. We had about 12 hours total, which allowed us to hit some of the "must-sees" on my list. I find the metro to be a great resource in helping to navigate the city in a short amount of time. On our first day, we saw: Tuileries Garden, the Louvre, Palais Royal, and Le Village Royal. We finished our evening in a sweet cafe' over a glass of wine and a lovely charcuterie platter. The morning before we caught our train to Amboise, we rented motorized scooters and were able to see the Eiffel Tower, Place du Trocadero, and the river Seine. It was a really fun way to get around quickly to take in the sights. On our last night in France (our second stopover in Paris), we saw: Sacre Couer, Montmartre, the sinking house, and just the front facade of Notre Dame (due to the recent fire, the streets were blockaded and guarded by the Police and Gendarmarie).
The train ride from Paris to Amboise is just about 2 hours. There are several choices of towns in the Loire valley to choose from for "home base"; my research suggested Amboise is one of the quieter choices. We loved our stay here. It was quaint, small, friendly and we stayed at an awesome place, Le Manoir les Minimes. The bedding was very comfortable, and the room was on the larger size . While it doesn't have a restaurant, it's literally a five minute walk into town. Amboise also delivered the best meal of the trip ! L' Epicerie was amazing. The owner was delightful, and helped us immensely in translating the French menu. The food was so delicious!
The reason I wanted to visit the Loire Valley was because of the chateaus in the region. There are over 300! (Not all are open to the public) I dedicated one day to our chateau visits, so I narrowed it down to the top three; the bonus fourth chateau was just up the hill from our hotel in Amboise. This region is so romantic, I could have spent more time here for sure!
In addition to the Chateau d' Amboise, we visited, Chambord, Cheverney and Chenonceau. They were all beautiful, but my absolute favorite was Chenonceau. Many of the chateaus have some rooms that are furnished so that you can really immerse yourself in the history and get a true feel of life in that era. Again, Chenonceau was far superior to the others in the interior as well.
Since I didn't rent a car this trip, I found a company that I booked a "van tour" with to take us to the three chateaus (Acco-Dispo). We were gone all day, and were able to visit the chateaus at our own pace. Our driver was very informative as we drove from chateau to chateau. It was perfect.
The Loire valley is also known for its extensive bike trails. There are plenty of rental shops in the area, and the price is really reasonable. You can rent by the day or day(s). We spent one day just biking around the area. I will say, you need to be prepared for some steep hills (there were times we actually walked alongside our bikes), and spotting the signs for specific trails was a challenge at times. But hey, we biked in France!