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City of Tours in the Loire Valley

 

 Tram in front of town hall in Tours

Tours, the principal city of the department of Indre-et-Loire (formerly Touraine) in the Loire Valley, has a well preserved cultural heritage which rests easily against its modern, vibrant and dynamic image of today. It has been a seat of learning since the middle ages and carries on this fine tradition through its university today. The city has much to offer the first time visitor and although small enough to walk its modern tramway transport system allows for easy and inexpensive access to many of its landmarks and tourist sites.

alfresco dining in Place Plumerau in Tours Loire Valley

You can sample the old Tours (Vieux Tours) by visiting the popular Place Plumereau with its carefully restored half-timbered townhouses. The area is packed with cafes/bars and restaurants of every kind and everything from aperitif to late night coffee is catered for. It is a good place to people-watch over a glass of beer, wine or a coffee, we have done it often!

It has been cited as the best square in France to have an aperitif by the French version of the international travel site 'Lonely Planet'.

A stroll through the old quarter  of Tours, day or night, offers many distractions and delights. Rue Colbert which lies midway between Place Plumereau and the cathedral is gaining a reputation as one of the most fashionable streets in the city for its young population.

Take a walk through the old quarter of Tours in pictures here:

There are many opportunities for shopping in Tours with modern centres such as Galeries Lafayette on Rue Nationale and Printemps on Boulevard Heurteloup but to find the more interesting shops you have to head up to the old quarter and the streets around Rue du Commerce and Rue Colbert.

Arbor Essence shop in Tours,Loire Valley,France.

flower shop in Tours,Loire Valley,France.

brocante shop in Tours,Loire Valley,France.

sweet shop in Tours,Loire Valley,France.

You could spend weeks here and still not sample all the culinary delights the city has to offer. One of our favourites restaurants is 'Le Chien Jaune' which is conveniently situated near the tourist office and railway station - great interior!

yellow dog restaurant in Tours Loire Valley

yellow dog restaurant interior Tours Loire Valley

 

Another good value restaurant is 'Le Bord'o' on Rue de Bordeaux which is the pedestrian street off to the left as you leave the railway station - here you can enjoy the 'plat de jour' or simply have a snack and you'll normally find some thing for the kids. Another great place for kids (and adults) is 'Mamie Bigoude' a great creparie on Rue de Châteauneuf. The inside is so funky that you have to explore...it has themed areas like eating in a bedroom or bathroom...see more here

For those who wish to seek out the culture of the city there are many fine monuments and museums. The Cathedrale St-Gatien with its flamboyant Gothic facade is an imposing piece of architecture both by day and by night. Musee des Beaux-arts is a fine provincial museum in the Palais des Archeveques and is worth a visit to view its rooms, furnished to suit the dates of the paintings on display, alone. There are works by Rembrandt, Degas and Houdon to be savoured.

 

The new Basilique de St-Martin, on rue Descartes, is a late nineteenth-century neo-Byzantine building erected to honour the relics of St Martin, rediscovered in 1860, they are now housed in the crypt. The interior is quite stunning.

 

The 'Hotel Gouin' on Rue de Commerce is worth a look without the need to visit inside unless you are really interested in Palaeontology though it is free and is a good place to shelter from the summer sun.

Tours benefits from a number  parks and gardens which offer a tranquil retreat from the buzz of the city. The vast Jardin des Prebendes which can be accessed from Avenue de Grammont is only a stones throw from the city’s historical centre and offers an ideal place to shade from the hot summer sun. North of the city lies Sainte Radegonde garden on a former island. Further downstream, the ile Simon park. To the west, the Botanical gardens: rare plants, animals, green-houses. To the south, the Balzac park on an island in the Cher river. Tours public places are well maintained and beautifully presented.

 

 

 

 

As you stroll through the city, day or night, you can only admire the freshness and feel of the place and understand its attraction, not only for tourists, but for the French people themselves, many who see it second only to Paris, perhaps overstating it a little but you are indeed in a very fine city. You will leave with fond memories and a desire to return. 

The river Loire.

Although lying between the Loire and  Cher rivers the city does not seem to feature them to any great extent although driving in and out you cannot help but notice their presence and effect on the landscape. One of the few places where it does embrace it is at the south side of the 'Pont Wilson' bridge at the top of Rue Nationale. Here, at 'La guinguette de Tours' from May until the end September the bank of the river offers a wide range of diverse and varied activities under the title of 'Tours sur Loire' including a bar, restaurant, concerts, sport, entertainment and games for children , outdoor cinema and dance floor.

 

 
There is also a Ferris wheel which operates June to September and December to January just above the river bank.

 

Tours by car.

It is advisable to enter and leave Tours from the auto-route as it is not the easiest city to navigate by car. It is however worth finding your way to the underground car park in front of the railway station as it is a good position for access to the centre of the city (and tourist office). The entrance is not obvious but as you approach the traffic lights with the fountain and railway station on your left and the modern 'Vinci Centre' (pictured) on your right, there is a filter lane (keep in the right lane) directly into the entrance. Don’t worry if you miss it first time round just go round again many people do!

 

Tours by train.

Most trains bound for Tours, including all TGVs (as many as 10 per day), depart from Paris' Gare Montparnasse for the 1 hour 10 minute trip. A limited number depart from Gare d'Austerlitz. Many, but not all, of the non-TGV trains pull into the the main Tours station. Most TGV trains arrive at the isolated station of Tours/St-Pierre-des-Corps, about 6 km (4 miles) east of the centre of Tours. If you end up here, wait for the next 'navette' train (platform/voie 4) into Tours centre, grab a taxi, or await a free navette (bus) for ongoing transport to the centre of the city.

If you are coming down from Paris it may be an idea to travel down here by train and pick up your hire car here.
Tours by bus.

The public transport system within the countryside of Touraine is well subsidised making access to the city from outlying villages affordable. So if you rent a rural location you can still take advantage of this lovely city without the car.

 

For example to travel up from Le Grand Pressigny in the south of the region you will be charged only  2.40 euro each way - great value!

 

Hotels

 

hotel de l univers in Tours France

 

The city of Tours offers a good selection of quality and budget hotels  to suit all travellers to the Loire Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More on Tours

Cathedral

 

 

Markets

 

 

Tours Airport

 

 

 

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   September in Tours                   From Loire Valley experiences

 

 

   Tourainissime.blogspot               Great post on the city of Tours