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Tours: A Splendid City in the Heart of the Châteaux Country

Tours, once the capital of the kingdom of France, is a super-cool place for a city break. It’s small-scale, people-friendly, lively and fun, with lots of things to do and see. Just take a look at the video!
 

 
It’s also in the epicentre of the châteaux country, with the magnificent Loire Valley châteaux all within easy reach, and surrounded by the 4,500 hectares of the ‘Appellation’ Touraine wine country.
 
Since we’re in France, let’s start our little ‘tour of Tours’ with a special nod to all you foodies. Lovers of fine food will delight in the many specialties and great wines that you can enjoy in any one of the many restaurants that line the animated shopping streets in the town-centre: its ‘Sainte Maure’ goat cheese, rillettes, nougat, the sparkling white Vouvray wine and  splendid Chinon and Bourgueil red wines, to name but a few.
 
Visit the winery, La Cave de Vouvray, and follow their guide deep into the troglodyte cellars (2.5km) to learn how the region’s famous still and sparkling wine is made. Or some the many other the surrounding vineyards, all within a radius of 50 km!
 
For sightseeing: wander through the old town with its gracious half-timbered houses, narrow cobbled streets and fantastic market place. Stop to hang out at one of the cool bars and cafés on the Place Plumereau, a charming square in the historic district where you can mingle with a cosmopolitan crowd of local residents, students and tourists.
 
A few of the city’s highlights: The Saint-Gatien cathedral, a perfect example Gothic art built during the 13th and 14th centuries on the vestiges of the Gallo-Roman city. Don’t miss its remarkable stained-glass windows, and the breath-taking beauty of its elaborate flamboyant façade when it lights up at the night. From there, head down along the waterfront to the Olivier Debré Contemporary Art Centre, a flagship contemporary art centre with 4 exhibition areas and a total surface area of 4,000 sq.
 
A visit to Tours wouldn’t be complete without a pause in a ‘guinguette’, the lively open-air cafés on the banks of the Loire with their cheerful, friendly atmosphere. And while you’re there, why not take a relaxing boat tour on the river? The Boutavant Association offers river tours leaving from the old port of Tours: head off on one of their traditional ‘Toue’ flat-bottom wooden boats, and enjoy a view of the city from a different perspective.
One last idea for the road: Rent a cycle and set off the famous ‘Loire à Vélo’ cycling route for the 20 km ride to the Gardens of Villandry, an absolute must on any Loire Valley tour, notably for its remarkable gardens, considered among the most beautiful in France. You’ll travel through the peaceful Touraine countryside and be back in time for dinner and yet another chance to sample the city’s fabulous cuisine!

For more information about the city of Tours, click here

 
Accommodation nearby
Are you looking for a hotel, bed and breakfast, campsite, gite or traditional horse-drawn caravan? Discover all our accommodation ideas for your stay in the Loire Valley.