Tours travel guide

Cities and towns

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 deSantiago. 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 Florilege 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 meat 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!

Why visit Tours?

  • The Architecture
  • Markets
  • The Museums
  • Parks and Gardens 

Overview

  • Country: France
  • Region: Loire Valley
  • Department: Indre-et-Loire
  • Population: 135,000
  • Coordinates: 47.439235,0.670166

Coordinates shown are based on the WGS84 system, please check driving directions before departing.

Nearby attractions

The Tours mueseum of fine arts was originaly established 4 March 1795 but has been situated in the bishop's former palace since 1910. The museum has over 12,000 works but only 1,000 are on show to the public. The ground floor...

The Jardin botanique de Tours (5 hectares) is a municipal botanical garden and arboretum, it began as a collection of about 2,000 medical and exotic plants arranged in greenhouses.

Villandry owes its fame to its 6 beautiful gardens - the water garden with its mirror-like lake, the decorative ornamental garden, the maze, the sun garden, the herb garden and at the lowest level the splendid kitchen garden...

A magnificent example of Renaissance and Gothic architecture, this château still houses a well preserved and exceptional collection of furniture. The gardens also offer one of the most beautiful views over the Loire Valley....

Places to visit nearby

Blois in the Loire Valley is a charming royal city with an historic château that has been home to 7 French kings and 10 French queens.

Saumur in Atlantic Loire Valley is easily recognised by its fairytale chateau and is famous for its association with horses - the area around the town is even known as the Kingdom of the Horse.

Le Mans in Pays de la Loire is a modern city with a diverse heritage.

Nearby events

Les 24H Vélo Shimano, cycling competition

A prestigious challenge.And they're off, for a whole day and night! Once again, the 24 hour cycling...

Les Accroche-Cœurs, festival

Bringing theatre out into the streets.The Accroche-Cœurs is an annual theatre festival that takes...

Les Accroche-Cœurs, festival

Bringing theatre out into the streets.The Accroche-Cœurs is an annual theatre festival that takes...