Capital of the Touraine area, Tours is also a Town of Art and History, and was the capital of the Kingdom of France in the 15th and 16th centuries. The town has preserved numerous traces of its prestigious past in the form of buildings, monuments and mansions.
Plumereau square in the heart of the old town is extremely lively. Lined with pretty timber-framed houses, this pedestrian square offers plenty of very pleasant café and restaurant terraces to relax on and admire the beautiful facades, some of which have preserved picturesque wooden sculptures. Next stop is Saint-Gatien cathedral and its richly decorated facade. This late Gothic religious monument is unusual in that it possesses magnificent windows dating from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.
Those who like museums also have lots to choose from:
- Touraine Archaeological Museum is located in the Gouin mansion, an elegant building of Renaissance architecture;
- Fine Art Museum in the former Archbishops' Palace with art collections from the Middle Ages to the 20th century;
- Touraine Wine Museum in the cellars of Saint-Julien abbey.
A great program ...
City Tours is situated on the banks of the royal river, in the heart of the Loire Valley World Heritage listed by UNESCO. Capital of the kingdom from 1450 to 1550, the city of Gauls, The Turones, has never ceased to grow demographically and economically.
Originally small Gallo-Roman town perched on a hill protected from river floods, the city of Tours will spread more and more to join the Cher (a tributary of the Loire flowing 3 km further south) . With its port, the city of Tours will acquire great wealth allowing him to build one of the largest basilicas of the age: the Basilica of St. Martin. Destroyed, the fact remains today that two traces, the two towers: the Clock in the West, where stood the entrance, and Charlemagne Tower, 100 meters to the east, in the rue des Halles, paver color symbolize the floor where the pillars that supported the building.
Top Christian pilgrimage during the Middle Ages, the cult of St. Martin will give the city an international reputation. And through waterways (mainly the Loire), the influx of many craftsmen will give rise to huge fairs.
During the Renaissance, Tours and the Loire Valley in general will be the center of the kingdom of France, geographically, culturally, economically and politically. Also becoming a mecca for leather tanning.
Aristocratic city in the empire, here and there with beautiful homes will be built in the district including Prébendes.
The arrival of the train will cause many changes in economic and philosophical. Station and City Hall were built by the famous architect Victor Laloux (he has also the Gare d'Orsay in Paris, now converted into a Museum of Arts of the nineteenth).
Partly destroyed during the Second World War, the city will benefit from American assistance for the reconstruction of the city, in honor of this precious help, the old stone bridge rebuilt by the GI's will be renamed Wilson Bridge, the behalf of the President of the United States at the time (also located on the fountains and other library are gifts from the USA). Will follow the war boom and major urban projects of the iconic mayor (and deputy minister) Jean Royer: Congress Centre Vinci, HLM banks of the Cher, Two Lions Technopole.
Nougat (round cake made with almonds and candied fruit) is a specialty of the city. The other specialty is rillette Tours.