Ever wanted to visit a place that was authentically French, but didn’t know which region to choose? There are few places that encompass more about France is a single city than Tours, also known as ‘Le Jardin de France’ for its abundance of greenery. Situated in the Central-Val de Loire, Tours absorbs influences from all the main regions to give the visitor a real taste of the French way of life. Even the inhabitants of Tours are renowned for speaking the purest form of French in all of France, so that should let you know immediately that you’re entering the ‘real’ France.
Where to Stay
Fortunately, Tours has its own airport just eight kilometres from the city, so getting there is easy. When it comes to accommodation, like most places in France, there’s a huge choice spanning every budget:
Hotel De L’univers – This is an upmarket boutique hotel near the central rail station positions within walking distance of all the main attractions.
Premiere Classe Tours Nord Parcay - This hotel is close to the airport, so you’ll need a hire car to get in and out of town, but nevertheless, it offers good clean accommodation at a very affordable price.
What to See
The old town – The centrepiece of Tours is, without doubt, the old town.
Picturesque Place Plumereau looks much as it did several hundred years ago. A superb place to spend a lazy lunch while watching the world go by.
Tours Cathedral – This imposing structure, dedicated to Saint Gatien, can be seen from most parts of town, so it’s handy for orienteering yourself, as well as paying a visit.
Musee des Beaux-Art – This is easily one of France’s best provincial museums, with a huge collection including some truly spectacular paintings, as well as rugs from taken from the grand houses of Touraine during the French Revolution.
Musée Archéologique – This stunning 15th-century renaissance building houses an eclectic collection of Palaeolithic and Roman artefacts, charting the history of the Touraine prefecture.
Château de Saumur – This chateau is worth visiting for the scenic journey to the castle alone. Just make sure to check the opening hours for the museums before you set out.
Where to Eat
If you manage tire of the authentic French cuisine in Place Plumereau, then make your next pitstop Rue Colbert, where you can sample various international cuisines that have added new flavours to traditional French cooking over the centuries.
La Roche le Roy – Alain Couturier, whose signature dishes include scalloped foie gras with lentils and supreme of pigeon with roughly textured sauce, is the highly acclaimed chef at this popular eatery.
La Brasserie Buré – A little off the beaten path this one, but walkable from the town centre. You’ll find this charming little brasserie inn the Place de la Resistance, specialising in shellfish and, oddly enough, sauerkraut.
Les Tuffeaux – This is one of the best restaurants in town if you’re in the mood to splash out. Certainly, Gildas Marsollier is one of the more inventive chefs in town with dishes such as partridge stuffed ravioli and roast filet of pigeon with grapefruit appearing on the menu, depending on the season.