Here you'll find some tips on getting to the venue, trip ideas, and some general tips for traveling to France.
Getting to the Venue
Flights to/from Paris:
To get to the venue the most convenient location to fly into for most people will be Paris. In Paris there are two major airports - Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY), and either works equally well. You can also fly to London (Heathrow or Gatwick), and take the Chunnel (or fly with RyanAir) to Paris. Yet another alternative is to fly to Brusselles and take the Thalys bullet train to Paris.
To get the best price the key here is to shop around! Airfares are REALLY high in the fall to winter before the following summer. They usually bottom out around February for the coming summer so keep your eyes peeled for the best fares. And if you are hoping to use frequent flyer miles, BE PATIENT. Most of the seats are already taken, but most airlines continue to open up a few seats all the way up to early January so keep trying.
Train service to the chateau to/from Paris:
There actually is train service to Saint Patrice (where the chateau is located) and it is cheap and relatively fast, but somewhat complicated. You can go directly from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (there is a train station right in the airport), or you can take the RER (regional) train to central Paris, spend a couple of days, and then take a train to St Patrice at the Gare (Station) Montparnasse. In either case, it will take you about 2-3 hours, including two changes of train, and cost about $75 (economy fare). You can make train reservations online at raileurope.com.
Renting a Car:
This is not for novices so if you've never driven in Europe (and you are directionally challenged), find a friend to do the driving. :) It is especially complicated to drive in and around Paris, and CDG Airport is on the opposite side of Paris from St Patrice and the Loire Valley. Once out of the Paris area, driving gets easier, but be sure and do two things - buy a France roadmap AND get GPS on your rental car. If you do drive, you will find that the rewards are worth the trouble, as this part of France is absolutely gorgeous and there are many attractions that cannot be visited without a car!
Travel Tips for France
The currency in France is the euro. You get the best exchange rate by using your credit card. However, note that you should contact your credit card company before departing the U.S. to inform them of your travel plans. Also, make sure that you use only a credit card that does NOT charge for international purchases! For cash it may be best to exchange your dollars to euros before you fly or use an ATM when you arrive at the airport.
There are two types of converters. The simplest is nothing more than a plug converter that costs about $2. However, make sure that your product says it can be used on 110/220V. Otherwise, you will ruin your product (not to mention blowing out fuses at the hotel) unless you purchase an expensive voltage converter. This happens quite often with U.S. sold hair dryers and hair straighteners.