Tours, the essence of the Centre-Val-de-Loire!

Continuing our trip of last weekend ,we finally reach our end destination Tours. As usual, we have been by here briefly, or in route, but never really saw much or if did it was a loong time ago; no photos. Therefore, we finally reach Tours and it was nice to merit a return trip asap!  Tours, a city on the banks of the Loire and Cher rivers in the department 37 of Indre-et-Loire,as seat of the area and of the metropolitan region of  Tours Métropole Val de Loire. It is in the administrative region of Centre-Val-de-Loire.

It is the old Caesarodunum founded by Cesar Auguste, capital of the 3rd Legion with one of the biggest amphitheaters of the Roman empire. Sanctuary of Saint Martin, Gregory of Tours, and Alcuin under the Merovingian and Carolingians with adoption by the Capétiens of the Tournais pound, the money that will become the money of the Kingdom of France. Capital of the County of Tours that will become Touraine the garden of France, royal capital under the Valois with its Castles of the Loire, capital of the kingdom for kings Henri III and Henri IV during the war of Religions and city of retreat in 1940 that had it in part destroyed in WWII. Good to mention the old bridge or Pont de Pierre over the Loire was renamed in July 1918 with the name of Woodrow Wilson ,president of USA from 1912-1920 for the help during WWI . Since then, culinary city as gastronomy enclave with specialties such as the rillettes ,and rillons, the wines touraine of the Val de Loire and it’s cheeses such as the AOC Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine (my favorite !) and the nougats of Tours.

We came by car (see previous post on 3 regions) , and we found it not bad even with only one way streets. Easy parking at Indigo Nationale rue Emile Zola off the rue Nationale. Safe and clean from about 15h the 3 February to 11h the 4 February for 17€. It is cover by the A10 for most of its territory beltway and it has a circle from which five highways come out; some of these are, A10 north towards Paris, and south towards Poitiers/Bordeaux, A28 towards Le Mans/Rouen, A85 west towards Angers, and A85 east towards Vierzon and junction with the valley of the Rhône. Many other secondary roads such as the N76, N138 allowing you to connect to the city and regional capitals such Limoges on the N147. And the ones we took the D37 and D751 along the Loire river.

Some transport direction for those without a car !

Good train service right in city center off blvd Heurteloup the TER is here:

And the TGV Atlantique off St Pierre-des-Corps just outside Tours. As well as the construction of a LGV Sud Europe line reaching Bordeaux (and eventually Spain) still in construction info here in French:

The current TGV Atlantique line here:

And a bus/tramway  terminal next to city center train station in Place du Général Leclerc.  The filbleu is great ride!  webpage here ! A good small airport serving London, Porto, Orly, etc here:


There is lots to see here and one day is not enough , however, we have come for short periods before many years back, and it was time to revisit the city, now we should be back to see more. SO much to see in my belle France, the Valley of the Loire alone will take a lifetime!!

The city of Tours is a city of Art and History designation here ,been a historic city name to the Unesco world heritage sites. As an anecdote ,Tours sometimes is call the Little Paris by visitors because maybe for its history, the architectural arrangement of its boulevards in the center town and buildings in white stone ,nice and clean silhouettes.

I will just name a few we visited this time and the nice shopping! But first some tourist information. The city page on it in French :

And the tourist office in English:

We went out of our hotel into glorious Tours. At the square François Sicard  with it’s nice garden park you are facing the museum of fine arts or musée des Beaux-arts , right in the center of the garden a cedar of Lebanon tree that goes back to 1804! There is an elephant Fritz that was belong to the Barnum and Bailey circus (Fl USA) and donated to the city of Tours it is stuff there in a glass enclosure  the elephant died in 1904! This will help you go further to see the most important French collection of Italian primitive arts after the Louvre…This all behind the white facade of the old 18C Episcopal palace or Palais des Archevêques, and paintings such as Mantegna, Boucher, Debré, and Zao Wouki, etc,  sculptures, ceramic, furniture and others objects of art awaits you! Right next to it is the gracious silhouette  of Saint Gatien Cathedral or Cathédrale Saint-Gatien ,name after the first bishop of Tours; majestic towers, splendid stained glass, big wonderful organ and the tombs of the children of  Charles VII and Anne de Bretagne (Anne of Brittany).

The fine arts museum webpage in French here:

And the Cathedral official site in French but lot more info than the tourist office here:


We continue our walks into the old street of Grand-Rue du Moyen Age, now call  rue Colbert. Here all is picturesque with old cafes and shops and authentic houses of the 15-16C.  We took a detour into the rue de la Scellerie with ambiance the district of the antiques shops, book shops, and china porcelain , to the right you see the flamboyant façade of the Grand Théatre, dating from 1875.  The webpage in French on history of it here:

Following our thirst for sights we took on one old reliable the rue Nationale  ,this is the old rue royale that link Paris with Spain of old, now with a perspective north south of 7 km long!!  There is a Galeries Lafayette ,and the wonderful Galerie Nationale shopping mall.  And the great boutiques in city center at rue Nationale ,Galerie Nationale ,especially come in for the Le Comptoir de Mathilde here:

And the shopping center Galerie Nationale here:


Stop by the truly remarkable tour Charlemagne,  in the district of Châteauneuf  and reaching the square of the same name you come to the wonderful Saint Martin Basilica or Basilique Saint-Martin  in rue des Halles. It was built in the néo byzantine style by local architect  Victor Laloux , the interior is awesome beautiful, glass, stone of gray marble, the tomb of Saint Martin in the crypt with beautiful harmony and spaces. Pope John Paul II visited here and offered a Mass to the poor in 1996.


The lively  rue des Halles  makes us come to the 21C ,and by the balcon of the Hotel de Ville and nice fountains. You come to the train station or Gare de Tours ,one of the most beautiful in France off blvd Heurteloup. Wait we did shopped here at rue des Halles!!


Tours Tours Tours Tours

We went to Damier Vert and got chocolates, nougats, marshmallow candy, and chocolate telephone tablets all home made; wonderful place at rue des Halles, here is the webpage:

And we had our dinner in the best international style at Amadeus Bagel with Pastramis bagel , burgers bagel, tex mex bagel , desserts such as abricot pies ,and sodas for 15.70€ per person! no webpage but plenty of reviews in English at my favorite yelp page here:


Oh yes I almost forgot we got our hotel , the Hôtel Moderne at 1-3 rue Victor Laloux off the blvd Heurteloup and very nice friendly service , centrally located on foot to all. It has acceptable rooms and good bathrooms, with reading room and wifi, only drawbacks no parking and expensive 9€ breakfast so we ate out. The parking was done at Indigo Nationale at rue Emile Zola nice easy 2 min walk to hotel but we pay extra 17€. The rooms were at 50€ ok.  no webpage but yelp always help,

Tours Tours Tours

Finally, we went by the Chateau de Tours in the oldest district of Tours next to the Loire river. built back to the 11C  by the 15C it is designated a royal domain. It was practically destroyed in the 18C and only two towers remained  used by the army from the French revolution, later serving as a barrack and left abandon until finally restored in the 20C ; today it houses cultural and heritage activities of the city of Tours. More here in English:


And this was Tours in a nutshell , of course lots more to see and enjoy this wonderful city of Touraine. There are those that said the purest French is spoken here… All to come in as we did and will come back again… Enjoy your week , mine is cruising along Thursday in Paris. Cheers!!

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