Lying on the banks of the Loire and Cher rivers, Tours was classified as a City of Art and History and included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2000.
With its half-timbered houses, its white stone buildings made of the region’s famous ‘tufa’, its museums, its taverns and its small restaurants, Tours is a city that mixes culture, history and gastronomy and is the starting point for visiting the famous Loire castles.
Beautiful, dynamic and lively, the city of Tours is an unmissable stop along the Loire chateaux itinerary.
Old, lively and gourmet: this is how to describe the surprising Tours. The birthplace of French writer Honoré de Balzac, Tours is proud of its old quarters, Cathedral and Plumereau.
In the heart of the centre you will find Place Plumereau1, a charming and always lively pedestrian square, recognisable by its half-timbered houses. In this corner, the atmosphere of yesteryear mixes with the hubbub of university students and the beauty of slate houses that hide delightful little corners like Jard Saint-Pierre le Puellier2.
The historical centre is characterised by its charming narrow streets in which to stroll, to experience the warm atmosphere of the city. If you want to step back in time, Rue Colbert3 will allow you to see the oldest houses in Tours. Another delightful little square is Place de Châteauneuf4, along with Rue Briçonnet5, where you can observe the city’s various architectural styles.
Located on this street, there is also Passage du Cœur Navré6: in the past, prisoners used to cross this narrow lane to undergo various tortures.
For foodies, Rue de la Rôtisserie7, full of small restaurants, is a must.
You can then continue your walk toPlace du Grand Marché8, nicknamed ‘Monster Square‘ because of a ‘monstrous’ modern art sculpture displayed in the centre of the square.
If you like to discover local products, the right place is Place des Halles9, with its covered market overflowing with delicacies from the region: rillettes and rillons, Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine goat cheese and fouaces, breads baked in a wood-fired oven.
The cathedral of Tours is part of the city’s history. Dedicated to Saint Gatien, the first bishop of Tours, it is immediately notable for its two towers, 68 and 69 metres high, towering over the centre of Tours. Built starting in the 13th century and completed in the 16th century, Saint Gatien Cathedral has gone through several historical periods, which explains the coexistence of different architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque.
Inside the cathedral, you can admire the choir, a masterpiece of the 13th century, reminiscent of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. You can also visit the tomb of Charles VIII’s sons or admire the famous collection of dazzling stained glass windows that adorn the chapel and windows. A special mention for the cloister, a small architectural jewel of Humanism, where you can still admire the rooms where the amanuensis worked, in one of the most beautiful libraries in France.
At Place Grégoire de Tours11 you can admire works by Rembrant and Monet.
Also not to be missed is a stop at the castle ruins and in particular at Rue de la Tour de Guise12, one of the parts still preserved.
Not far from the cathedral, near the river, there are some old streets and small squares that escaped the bombings such as Place Foire le Roi13.
The Basilica of St Martin is a religious monument built between 1886 and 1902 by architect Victor Laloux. It is a Roman-Byzantine style building composed of different materials: limestone, granite, marble and slate. The crypt houses the tomb of St Martin, the most famous of the bishops of Tours.
The Basilica di San Martino was built on the remains of a former collegiate church, one of the most important sanctuaries in Christianity, of which only two towers remain today: the Charlemagne Tower and the Clock Tower, classified as historical monuments in 1840.
Built between 1765 and 1778, Pont Wilson is the oldest bridge in Tours. Nicknamed the ‘stone bridge’, it is 434 metres long and connects the north and south banks. Crossing it means admiring a splendid panorama over the Loire.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
The lively city of Tours is a perfect base from which to visit and explore the Turenne area, rich in famous castles such as Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Ussè and Langeais.
In addition, its sparkling old town, full of gourmet bistros and small restaurants, lends itself to experiencing the city on warm summer evenings. The accommodation scene offers a wide variety of hotels in the heart of the city: you will be spoilt for choice according to your needs.
The city of Tours is well connected with the main cities of the Loire Valley and Paris. Many tourists combine a visit to the French capital with a shorter stay in the Loire region.
Tours is only 240 km from Paris, about 2½ hours by car. To get to the capital of Turenne, you have to follow the A10 motorway that links Paris and Bordeaux. If, on the other hand, you arrive from Nantes or Bourges, you will have to take the A85 while the A28 is indispensable if you want to reach Le Mans and Normandy.
From Paris, you can easily reach Tours in only 1 hour: in fact, the TGVs arriving from the French capital stop at the Tours central station.
Another way to get to Tours from Paris is the Flixbus line: buses leave from the Parisian Bercy Seine station and will take you to Tours in about 3 hours.
What's the weather at Tours? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Tours for the next few days.
Tours is the main centre of Turenna, an area of the Loire Valley rich in centres and enchanting castles to visit.