France has many cities that we love, each with its own unique character. And one of the most beautiful is Tours, located in the heart of the Loire Valley, nestled along the Loire River and the smaller Cher River. Tours is quintessentially French, with a beautiful, UNESCO World Heritage center that dates back to the Middle Ages, rolling vineyards and AOC denominations spreading out from it, and plenty of art, culture, and food to enjoy.
Our newest food and wine tour in France, French Foodie Getaway in Tours, sees you based in Tours at a charming luxury B&B. Although planned as a short escape from Paris (which is just under 2 hours away by train), it can easily be customized into a longer tour.
So, why Tours? What is there to see?
Five Things to See in Tours
Place de Plumereau
The heart of Tours is the old town, or Le Vieux Tours, which looks like a museum but has the vibrant feel of a local neighborhood. At its center is the famous Place de Plumereau, whose picturesque half-timbered cantilevered houses and cobblestoned streets make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
But there is nothing staid about the Old Center, as it is full of shops, cafes, and restaurants that you can explore to your heart’s content.
Hours: Open 24/7
Saint Gatien Cathedral
The magnificent Cathedral of Tours, dedicated to Saint Gatien (or Gatianus), is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Statrted in 1170 on the site of a previous cathedral, the structure was completed in 1547 and is a perfect example of the various ages of Gothic design from early Gothic to the Flamboyent.
Of particular note are:
- the western facade, which combines Romanesque and Flamboyant styles
- the original stained glass windows which date from the Thirteenth Century, including five stunning rose windows, the most notable of which is the north window
- the tomb of two children of Charles VIII of France and Anne de Bretagne, who died in infancy
- the towers, which were begun in the Twelfth Century but finished during the early years of the French Renaissance
- the cloister of La Psalette, which is considered an early example of the French Renaissance style
Hours: Open daily 9 am to 7 pm
Musée des Beaux Arts
Located in the former palace of the Archbishop of Tours (and therefore near the Cathedral), is the Musée des Beaux-Arts. The large collection features masterpieces by Andrea Mantegna as well as works by other Italian, French, Flemish, and Dutch painters.
When you finish with the Gothic and Renaissance paintings, you can also check out the modern paintings and sculptures, including works by Degas, Monet, Rodin, and Giacometti.
Hours: Open Wednesday through Monday, mornings and afternoons, but closed Tuesdays
Guinguette sur Loire
From May to September you can visit the left bank of the Loire River to experience the vibrant “Guinguette”, the outdoor drinking, dining, and entertainment that takes place along the river during the summer months. The festival-type atmosphere and setting along the serene banks of the river make it an experience you won’t want to miss if you are in Tours during the summer!
Cost: Depends on food/beverages consumed
Hours: May through September, hours vary by establishment
Halles de Tours
This is the heart of the gastronomy of Tours, the covered market where you can buy produce, cheese, charcuterie, seafood, and more. It is where you can find the famed goat cheeses of the region, including Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. It is where you can buy the local nougat of Tours, and the dried pears known as “poires tapées.” It is where you can sample oysters freshly shucked with a glass of chilled white Vouvray.
Hours: Monday through Saturday 7 am to 7:30 pm; Sunday 7:30 am to 1:00 pm
Tours and Beyond
And of course, this is not to mention all the amazing sites to see in the vicinity of Tours, including France’s most famous chateaux such as Chambord, Chenonceau, and Villandry, the stunning city of Amboise (with its own chateaux and Clos du Lucé, former residents of Leonardo da Vinci), and more vineyards than you can count.
You can explore Tours on our French Foodie Getaway, which includes a market visit, cooking class, walking tour, and wine and cheese master class. But we can easily add on additional activities, such as e-bike excursions along the Loire River, private guided excursions to the areas, chateaux, winery visits, and more!
Contact us to start planning.
By Peg Kern
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