Tours is today the capital city of Touraine region, but in former days it remained the official capital of France for almost 100 years and is therefore considered to have greatly contributed to the creation of France as one united country.
You will be surprised by this dynamic city, full of energy. Listed as part of the UNESCO world heritage Tours also boasts a rich past and was granted the Art and History French label.
Located on the Loire and Cher River banks, just a short one-hour TGV ride from Paris, Tours is the perfect gate onto the Loire castles and vineyards.
During the Middle Ages, it became famous worldwide when the Archbishop Saint-Martin of Tours turned the city into a major pilgrimage destination as popular among pilgrims as Rome itself!
Saint-Gatien Cathedral is an interesting monument, with some parts dating back from the 4th century. Together with the Basilica hosting the famous archbishop’s gravestone, both monuments still showcase the religious power the city enjoyed in the Middle Ages.
2000 medieval half-timbered houses from that glorious period are still standing proudly along the must-see Plumereau square, and parts of other historical monuments are still visible, like the tower of the defensive fortress walls that once surrounded the city.
Yet, the importance of Tours will increase and reached its peak during Renaissance.
Capital of the Kingdom of France, Tours was the city officially in charge of manufacturing the Tournois Pound, the national currency at that time. The city was thriving and this tremendous prosperity encouraged the building of many splendid Renaissance-style private mansions, some of which still exist today. .
Nowadays, Tours is an enjoyable and easy-going place to live!
The city attracts many foreign students, Americans and Japanese alike, hanging around in the evening to enjoy the atmosphere of the old part of town. They come here to learn French, since the place is highly reputed for the purity of its French accent.
Foreigners are not the only students in Tours. Many young people come here to study but also to enjoy the intense cultural programme and of course the atmosphere of Plumereau Square, a place where you can find the highest density of bars and cafés in the whole country!
The city offers a perfect combination of treasures from the past and modern facilities. The most striking example is Rue Nationale with the modern-designed tramway leading to the must-see Monster Statue, the City Hall building, a neoclassical masterpiece and the typical 14th and 15th half-timbered houses.
Tours is not just a major city for Touraine inhabitants, it is definitely worth a visit if you are travelling in France!