A view of St Gatien cathedral in Tours

Tours travel guide

About Tours

Tours in the Loire Valley is a modern city with a history dating back to the Romans that is famous for its architecture, wines and markets.

The largest city in the Centre region, Tours can trace its history from the Roman empire to the Middle Ages when it became a major centre, and a medieval double town, and the cathedral became part of the pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago.

The cathedral was built in the 12th century although some parts were not finished until the 15th century and are Flamboyant Gothic in style. Some vestiges of Gallo-Roman architecture can be found around the cathedral although much of the Old City (le Vieux Tours) is made up of medieval half-timber houses.

Tours is also known for its Renaissance architecture with many splendid houses and a magnificent medieval facade can be found on the Hôtel Gouïn which now houses the Touraine Archaeological Museum. Although the city suffered heavy damage during WW2, Tours has much of its heritage preserved for visitors to enjoy.

Today, Tours is a modern and lively town with a thriving university and is one that celebrates its history in its many museums - the Musée des Beaux-Arts, archaeological museum, the museum of the history of Tours inside the Château Royal de Tours, and a museum dedicated to St Martin who lived here in the Middle Ages and is known as the saint who shared his coat with a beggar.

The city also hosts several cultural festivals including the Florilège Vocal de Tours an international festival of choir music that is one of the most important choral competitions in the world. Relax in the parks and gardens and take a stroll through the gardens of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, containing a tree planted by Napoleon himself and a discover a stuffed elephant called Fritz hidden away in an alcove!

Book a tour of the city - whether you're interested in ancient Tours, Renaissance Tours or Tours when illuminated at night, there is a tour to suit you. Don't forget to take an excursion to some of the beautiful nearby châteaux and vineyards!

With an incredible 30 markets in the city, Tours is an excellent place for some shopping with traditional food and drink markets, flower markets, flea markets, antiques markets and more. You'll also find luxury international brands, traditional local shops and chic boutiques in the centre.

In the restaurants, make sure you enjoy some rustic local foods like rillettes (a pâté-style dish made from pork), andouillettes (tripe sausage) and coq-au-vin with some local Touraine wine - whether its red, rosé or white is your choice!

Holidays in France

Sail & stay with us to save time and money! Pack your car with everything you need - even the family pet, and enjoy the fun of travelling on board.

Gite in Atlantic Loire Valley

GITES AND COTTAGES IN FRANCE

View of the Hotel Aigue Marine, Tréguier

HOTEL HOLIDAYS & BREAKS IN FRANCE

Family walking on the beach

FAMILY HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE AND SPAIN

A man and a woman reading by their car

CAR & MOTORCYCLE TOURS IN FRANCE

Getting to France

Get closer to your holiday in France with a choice of routes sailing to Roscoff, St Malo, Cherbourg, Caen and Le Havre

Colourful boats at the port in Roscoff © Shutterstock

PLYMOUTH TO FRANCE FERRIES

Aerial view of Poole harbour, from where Brittany Ferries sail to Cherbourg, France

POOLE TO FRANCE FERRIES

The walls of Intra-Muros around St Malo from the marina © Shutterstock

PORTSMOUTH TO FRANCE FERRIES

COVID-19