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.
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
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:
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.
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!
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
For those who wish to seek out the
culture of the city there are many fine monuments and
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
'Hotel Gouin' on Rue de Commerce is worth a look
without the need to visit inside unless you are
really interested in
though it is free and is a good place to shelter
from the summer sun. The chateau at Tours does
not hold the same attraction as many of its
illustrious neighbours and is used mainly for
housing a variety of exhibitions.
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. Most of Tours public places are
well maintained and beautifully
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
The river Loire.
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
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
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.
are coming down from Paris it may be an idea to travel down
here by train and pick up your hire car here.
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!
The city of Tours offers a
good selection of quality and budget hotels to suit all
travellers to the Loire Valley.