The Cathedral Saint Gatien of Tours!!

One of the nicest cathedrals in France and it took me about two trips to Tours to finally see it! Well it was worth the stop and it is a wonderful cathedral. I like to update the text and links on this older post for the enjoyment of me and you. Let me tell you about the Cathedral Saint Gatien of Tours!!


Now let me bring you to an area I have been coming since even before living in France. This is the Loire valley of the kings, and the purest French language according to scholars. I have passed and been in Tours several times, but rather quickly either on business meetings or just stopping by on my way to other places.  All this change until I came to live in France in 2003 and was close by. Tours and its castles you think , yes, there are plenty here and beautiful. However, I came mostly for the architecture and the history and mainly for the wines of the Loire. But again, fell that had not given the merit it deserves to its wonderful Cathedral Saint Gatien; therefore, here is my presentation of it now.


Saint-Gatien Cathedral of Tours in the department of Indre-et-Loire no 37, Region Centre-Val de la Loire (this is the real castle region not to be confused with the other one pays de la loire, even if castles there too ::)) . Dedicated to Saint Gatien, the first Bishop of Tours, it is the seat of the Diocese of Tours and the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Ecclesiastical province of Tours. St. Gatien Cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547. During its creation, it was located almost at the outlet of the bridge over the Loire controlled by the Château de Tours, on the road connecting Paris to the southwest of France.


A bit of history i like

The first Cathedral of St. Maurice was built by Lidoire, Bishop of Tours from 337 to 371 and Martin’s predecessor. Burned down in 561, it was restored by Gregory of Tours and opened  in 590. Because of its location, at the corner of the Castrum, and its orientation to the east, access was made, if not through the late-antique enclosure, at least by bayonet from the throughway in the city. The Cathedral of Tours was rebuilt during the second quarter of the 12C and was burned down in 1166 during the struggles between Louis VII of France and Henry II of England, Count of Anjou. This Cathedral has a length of 100 meters, with of 28 meters with the transept is 46 meters wide, the towers are on the North of 68 meters and on the South of 69 meters.  At the site of the present St. Gatien Cathedral, in the 4C there was a first sanctuary of modest size, then a second in the 6C. Finally, a third, Romanesque style, is built around 1125. Destroyed by several fires, the building was raised and transformed thanks to the generosity of Saint Louis (1236). From this time date the Choir of radiating Gothic style. Once the Choir and the transept were completed, the 14C saw the nave rise in turn. It will only be completed after the Hundred Years ‘ War, as is the façade that adopts a flamboyant Gothic style. It was also in the 14C that the Cathedral was definitively consecrated to Saint Gatien.

The best here are its stained glass windows. The most beautiful, dazzling, adorn the Chapels of the ambulatory and the high windows of the choir. It is one of the most perfect ensembles of  stained glass windows of the 13C  existing in Europe, complete, intact, multicolored, very varied. It is necessary to add the two rosaries of the transept, from the 14C, as well as those of the nave and the façade, from the 15C. Another beautiful 15C stained-glass window adorns one of the Chapels of the south aisle. The organ buffet would have been offered by Archbishop Martin of Beaune in the 16C damaged during the wars of Religion, it underwent several restorations and even in the 17C a real reconstruction, probably around 1620. The organ buffet is adorned with a dozen angels and cherubs.  When visiting Saint-Gatien, don’t forget your pair of binoculars!  The contemplation of these angels, very finely sculpted, when the rosary is in the background, is really breathtaking indeed. The bells are located in the south tower.  Christus, was done in 1749, it comes from the abbey of Cormy and then settled in the cathedral in 1807.  Maurice, was installed at the Cathedral in 1864.  Gatien, was installed at the cathedral in 1864. Martin, was done in the 14C .



You can also see in the Cathedral the tomb of two of the children of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany, who died in the early years. The two recumbents this monument was in 1506 in the collegiate Church of Saint-Martin before being dismantled in the French revolution and then reassembled in 1814 in a Chapel of  Saint-Gatien where it was restored for the first time in 1834.  The tomb of the Children of France. This superb memorial in Carrara marble is the tomb of Charles Orland (died 3 years old) and Charles (died 25 days).  The recumbents correspond to the French sculpture of the time. The nave is the work of Italians artists  whom Charles VIII had brought back to France following the Italian Wars. They introduced the Italian Renaissance such as putti, coat of arms, dolphins, vegetable frieze, centaurs, sirens, etc. In the history of art, this monument is part of the first French Renaissance. It will of course have a certain influence on the sculptors of Touraine during what historians call the beautiful 16C.  Since 2011, the Cathedral houses a large 17C  tabernacle of ebony-and ivory-clad oak, having belonged to a chartreuse, then to the Carmel of Créteil which gave it to the State in  1950. Since 1963, it adorned the Château de Chambord  Chapel, but the estate wanted to refurnish itself only in objects related to its history. The tabernacle was transferred and renovated to St. Gatien Cathedral. A basement and a protection grid have been added. He is now exhibited in one of the Chapels of the ambulatory.


During the first half of the 16C, the towers, characteristic of the Cathedral of Tours, received their coronation in Italian style. Two decades later, during the wars of Religion, the numerous statues of the portals were destroyed by the Protestants. At the French revolution, Saint-Gatien became the Temple of Reason.  The Cathedral of Tours has a magnificent canopy in its large Choir and two beautiful rosaries of radiant style, in the arms of the transept. One of them serves as a background to a sumptuous 16C organ buffet. The St. Gatien Cathedral has a magnificent canopy of the apse dates from the years 1260-1267. It dominates a Choir of radiant Gothic style erected thanks to the largesse of Saint Louis.  The nave comprises eight bays. The first six are from the 15C. The two farthest back to the Romanesque cathedral of the 12C. This is due to the lack of money. Pope John XXII , and the famous Jacques Duèze of the Cursed Kings even had to call for help in favor of the Cathedral.




Further to be seen around the Cathedral Saint Gatien is a Cloister, also of Renaissance period, this Cloister bears the name of  Cloister of the Psalette, in reference to its function of school of Psalms (religious songs). Further north (about 350 meters), the remains of Gallo-Roman baths discovered during the excavations of 1974-78, under the original foundations of the castle of Tours, whose tower of Guise (13C), is the name of the young Duke who escaped in 1591, is well preserved. To the south of the Cathedral, the ancient palace of the Archbishop, built in the early 18C, is now the Museum of Fine Arts in Tours.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and is a must in Tours are

The parish of the Cathedral of Tours

The Tours tourist office on the Cathedral:

The Touraine Loire Valley tourist board on Tours

The regional Val de Loire tourist board on Tours

There you go folks, you got all you need to come see this beauty, a jewel in the Loire, Cathedral of Saint Gatien of Tours. Enjoy it as we did.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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