Archive for March 17th, 2011

March 17, 2011

Tours, the crossroad of the Loire valley

Well this is really the epic center to go into the Loire valley as far as public transport, and a nice city on its own too. I go by it many times,and stop for lunch on my business trips, then decided to visited with the family, which will have to tell you only as the photos cannot find them Lol!!!

A bit about Tours,the capital city of the department of Indre et Loir no 37, region Centre of France.  It is classify as Ville d’Art et d’Histoire in France or City of arts and history. Its here since the gauls Turones many centuries ago, the second bishop Saint Martin is said to have help king Clovis of the Franks to reunite the kingdom of Francia or France!  and many historical tipbits after that until being very touch by WWI, as the center of the French army and the base of the Americans 492nd squadron, and hospital, as well as renaming the pont de pierre stone bridge the pont Woodrow Wilson.  The WWII is no different being the center of military installation that persist to our days by the airport; the city was finally liberated in September 1 1944.

Right by the rivers Loire and Cher, and the crossroad of many routes especially the A10 and N10 north south and the N152 to the Loire valley. You can go to Rouen on the A28 and to Vierzon/Angers on the A85.  The best route planner as estimates can be given is viamichelin, for a beginner driver is good. . Parking in the city is no problem as I am always with my car in and out, best location is by the route nationale just by the Hotel de Ville at blvd Heurteloup/Gymnase des Minimes or further along closer to the Loire at parking Place Anatole France , if you have the will you can park for free by the banks of the river Loire. The bus system Fil Bleu  seems to be good but never try it ,the site in French in trajects is here .  There is a tramway service under construction which if want to keep track before coming the webpage is here .  The interurban bus system Touraine Fil Vert to link cities around the region of  Tours is For the train you have the SNCF gare de Tours-Centre  in city center, 1 place du Général Leclerc, and the TGV line at St Pierre des Corps  just next town over.  The local lines is on TER webpage TER Centre here . The city is service by a nice small airport with links with many cities in Europe, webpage here .

Some of the interesting places to visit in my opinion are the Cathedrale Saint Gatien, Bibliothéque Municipale de Tours (b 1793), Grand Théatre Tour Charlemagne, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Chateau de Tours, Basilique de Saint Martin, and the Vieux Tours or old city quarters around Place Plumereau.

Cathédrale Saint Gatien was built around 1170AD to 1570 Ad period; on the place of old church that goes back to 371AD! with 97 meters long (320 ft) and an organ from the 16C and of course a historical monument of France, webpage at  .  The Bibliothéque Municipale de Tours is near the Loire by the place anatole France, built from 1793 but last renovated in 1957.It is also a historical monument of France, webpage . The Grand Théatre, built on the old Chapelle des Cordeliers, it was sold during the French revolution in 1794, and from 1796  it is used as a theater. A very nice theater like the best in Paris, webpage  . The Musée des Beaux-Arts, its in the old episcopal palace of the bishops near the Cathedral, beautiful collection of French paintings and the primitive Italian or old Italian masters painters such as Mantegna, as well as sculpture by Rodin,Houdon and others. It has a cedar trip planted in 1902 while a visit by the Barnum and Bailey Circus with around it an elephant killed while going while that year. Webpage at the city of Tours page here

The Tour de Charlemagne, from the 13C  it is a complex fromt he old convent of Saint Martin where Luitgarde, the fourth wife of Charlemagne was buried in 800AD.  it is 56 meters high (185 ft).  The Chateau de Tours, from the 11C ,it was used as an aquarium until 2000 ,and now hold important exhibitions and expos of art comtemporary, and shop of archeology etc. It is by the place des Turones and Avenue Andre Malraux near the Loire river, not far from Cathedral along rue Lavoisier. The Basilique Saint Martin,originally built in 437AD, has been renovated as of 1924 by fame architect Victor Laloux. It houses the body of Saint Martin in its crypt. it is very nice indeed , the official webpage is at , and of course walk walk as always the Vieux Tours area is wonderful with many houses of quaint medieval look and feel, the place Plumereau is famous with locals and tourist alike, place de la Livre, Place Chateauneuf the whole area is mostly pedestrian.

There are big shopping centers here but leave them as you are in Rabelais country ,try the nougats of Tours, the Rillettes de Tours, and andouilletes,and the macarons, chocolates, wines, its glorious I do stop just to get some while in route !  shopping and eating you must visit Hardouin, the charcutier par excellence better than anywhere!  70, rue Bernard Palissy or the Halles centrale at Tours a laberinth of good food and delicacies, also with many other producers at Place du Marché near Basilique Saint Martin, from place Plumereau facing it go left to pl du Grand Marché, turn left again to Halles et Grand Marché, glorious worth a trip alone.  If you are summer as went we went with my family last, try the Le Lys d’or glacier or ice cream parlor as well as crêpes at place Plumereau . Also the Boutique des Musées at place Plumereau are great souvenirs from museums of France all of them.

Well no hotel experience other than business trips at the ACCOR chain like the Mercure Centre, it can convenient for visitor too, the place is loaded with good ones. The webpage is here for info.

As to places to eat, well here too the choices are endless. My experiences have been at Leonard de Vinci, italian gastronomic restaurant, 19 rue de la Monnaie , the tagliatelles and lasagnas are to kill for, webpage .The Au Lapin qui Fume, 90 rue Colbert, near the Bibliothéque Nationale, no web tel +33 02 47 66 95 49, anything with rabbit is good for me ::).  For glorius glasses of wine from the region and great traditional French food head for L’Hédoniste, 16 rue Lavoisier, near Cathedrale Saint Gatien, you can even buy your bottles here! webpage . For my beloved seafood and an institution there since 1902 head for La Chope, 25bis Ave de Grammont, near the Hotel de Ville,has great menus but try the Plateau La Chope good value and delicious,  webpage

For some cool down drinks and why not head for Le Gambrinus , near the Gare Centre train station, good for a last sip! and au revoir Tours, webpage , and the Le Corsaire, 187  avenue Grammont no web but great cocktails all in its own glass ,original, tel +33 02 47 05 20 00. its near the Cher river on the other side past the hotel de ville in city center a bit out but worth it.

 Hope it helps you enjoy Tours, it will be great with a combination of a castle from the Loire valley, city and country combo ::) The official webpage for tourism in Tours is at . The tourist webpage for the region around Tours is at

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