Plumareau Square on Tours in Loire Valley in France
There are two reasons why Spanish tourists go to the French city ofTours, and to the point that this year Spain has become the first country of origin of the tourists who visit it.
First, Tours it's a stage of the route through the Loire Valley to see its famous castles, and there are many visitors who stay in the city by taking it as a base on this trip.
But, on the other hand, to Tours many visitors arrive as pilgrims interested in the figure of San Martin de Tours and to see his grave.
Tours Cathedral in Loire Valley in France
In any case, Tours it is a city that is marked on the axis of the route from Spain to Paris, and which from the French capital is reached in just one hour in TGV high speed train, so it is very accessible to be visited.
The current configuration ofTours It shows three distinct areas that are due to its origin and its historical evolution, which extend along the southern shore of the Loire river That crosses the city.
Curiosities history of Tours
The city of Tours dates back to the Gallo-Roman era, in which there was a small open town, without walls.
Before the arrival of the barbarians, the city needed to be walled, which was done in the fourth century, and is the area whose central axis is the Gothic cathedral.
City Hall of Tours in Loire Valley in France
Who was San Martín de Tours
At that time who later appeared SaintMartin de Tours, a Roman soldier who had aappearance from Jesus Christ, and from then on he dedicated himself to evangelize the peasants, becoming named Bishop of Tours in the year 370.
He was buried in a cemetery that was some distance from the small walled city, and from there began to develop another small city that is where the current historic center is located
Over time the population was occupying the space between both cities, until at the end of the fourteenth century a great wall was built that already enclosed the two small cities to protect the entire population during the time of the Hundred Years War.
Another highlight is that the city of Tours is in the axis of Camino de Santiago Francés.
This corresponds to the old national highway 10 that went from Paris to Spain, which in the 18th century gave way to National street which currently crosses the city from north to south separating the two historical zones.
Half-timbered house in Tours in Loire Valley in France
These are now known as the Cathedral Quarteror Old City, and the San Martín neighborhoodFor there is the sepulcher of the saint.
Finally, from the arrival in 1845 of the railway to Tours, as an extension of the first line that in France united Paris with Orleans, a new neighborhood was extended where you will now see buildings of classic French architecture, highlighting that of the town hall.
What to see and do in Tours
In order to visit the city, you have the possibility of joining some of the guided tours of Tours that offers the Tourist Office, and in line with the tour I did during my recent visit to the city, I will indicate the places of interest that you should know.
The starting point can be your own Tourist Office, which is located in front of the station where you can possibly arrive in TGV, which was built on the occasion of the arrival of the train to the city, and where you can gather information about the city.
This office is next to the building of Congress Center which in 1993 was built by the architect Jean Nouvel.
Museum of Fine Arts Tours in Loire Valley in France
From this place you should go directly to the St. Gatien's Cathedral, Gothic building built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Museum of Fine Arts
It is located next to the building of Archbishop's Palace, one of whose towers retains at its base vestiges of the original Gallo-Roman wall of the fourth century.
Now the building is the headquarters of Museum of Fine Arts, which preserves the best collection of Italian primitives in France.
I anticipate that the impressive will surely catch your attention cedar of Lebanon planted in 1804 that has all the prominence in the landscaped enclosure of said palace.
To also point out a sculpture dedicated to Balzac, the other great important character of the city of Tours, who was born in a house of the aforementioned National street, which was destroyed during the WWII.
Tours Cathedral in Loire Valley in France
The facade of the Tours Cathedral It is located on the west side of the place where the old wall was and in front of a small park.
What will most catch your attention of this imposing facade is to verify that the eardrums of the cathedral doors are openwork so that light enters through the stained glass.
In this line, the rosette has an irregular shape to also promote a greater entry of light into the cathedral.
You will also see that the niches of the facade do not retain any statue, since they were destroyed by Protestants in the War against Catholics in 1562.
Upon entering the interior of the cathedral, you will have the sensation of a great height in the central nave, but in reality it is an optical effect; in fact its height is 29 meters.
Colbert Street in Tours in Loire Valley in France
You should know that 70 percent of the stained glass windows of the cathedral are original, although in this respect, the windows with a modern design of the presbytery area are sure to attract your attention.
This area was renovated in the late 90s, and you will easily recognize it by the different color of the stone and by the aforementioned stained glass windows that were designed very recently, in 2013, showing one of them the figure of the Pope Benedict XVI.
From the cathedral you can go to the old main Street, which historically linked the areas of the current neighborhoods of the Cathedral and San Martin.
Until you cross the National street now it's called Colbert Street, and you will see that it is a narrow narrow street that has become an area of restaurants frequented by locals and tourists.
During your walk you will find some beautiful set of houses with half-timbered facades, you can see some half-timbered house, like the one that reminds you with a plaque that the heroine and French saintJoan of Arc received in Tours your armor
Sculptures in medieval house of Tours in Loire Valley in France
In addition, many of the houses that have stone facades actually maintain their original wooden structure, and were covered with the aforementioned stone in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to prevent fires.
St. Julian's Church
At the junction with the National street you find the St. Julian's church with its 12th century Romanesque facade,
It will appeal to you that the church floor is at a floor level clearly below that of the National street, it is from the twelfth century when it was built, while the street was designed centuries later, in the eighteenth.
The building attached to the church is that of the old bedroom of the monks who resided in the monastery in the Middle Ages, and now houses the Guild Museum Where you can see amazing handicrafts.
Guild Guild Museum in Tours in Loire Valley in France
It shows a large collection of artisan works made with the most diverse materials, and is the only museum in France where you can see this type of collection.
Once you cross that one National street, the old one main Street follow now by the so-called Commerce Street, where merchants concentrated in the Middle Ages to attend the pilgrims who came to see the sepulcher of San Martin de Tours.
Center for Contemporary Creation of Tours
At that point is the building of the new headquarters of the Contemporary Creation Center, now also known asOlivier Debré Center.
Olivier Debré de Tours Contemporary Creation Center
It is not a museum but a temporary exhibition center that was founded in 1984, and where more than 300 contemporary artists have already passed.
It has three huge rooms suitable for large installations, and it should be noted that currently there are six huge paintings donated in the day by the French artist Olivier Debré.
Already deceased, he was the one who best knew how to reflect the sensations caused by the Loire river, and currently gives its name to the new center of contemporary art.
Manor House Hotel Gouin
As you move towards the heart of San Martín neighborhood, you will pass by the 15th century palatial house known as Hotel Gouin, building to which in the XVI century its beautiful facade of Renaissance style was added.
Manor house Hotel Gaouin en Tours in Loire Valley
The original building was destroyed during the fire of 1940 caused by the attack of the Germans to the city of Tours, but this facade could be conserved when being added in its frontal.
Currently the Hotel Gouin It is used for events and temporary exhibitions.
Plumareau or Market Square
You will soon reach the aforementioned heart of this historic neighborhood that will surprise you with its great atmosphere during the day and night of terraces of bars and restaurants.
In this regard you should know that Tours It is a standout University City after the installation in 1970 of three faculties very close to this neighborhood.
Sculptures of the house of the Sagrada Familia in Plumareau Square in Tours
That is why today it is also known as the Student Neighborhood.
In the Plumareau square you find one of the icon images of Tours, that of a beautiful set of half-timbered houses which in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were occupied by merchants and artisans.
This entire area was rehabilitated by the Tours Town Hall since 1973, and nowadays it is always a very busy place for students and tourists who enjoy the terraces that cover the entire pedestrian zone.
To stand out in the square known as house of the Sagrada Familia, from the 15th century, with the entire slate covered facade, and in which the original sculptures are preserved.
Towers of Charlemagne and the Clock
Very close is when you find the place that gives name to this historic neighborhood, and meeting point for pilgrims traveling to the city of Tours, the St. Martin's Basilica.
Corner of the Barrio de San Martín in Tours in Loire Valley
The original basilica was larger than the cathedral as it had up to five ships, but during the French Revolution It was destroyed and later a street was opened in the middle of the space occupied by the central nave.
Of that building only the Charlemagne Tower, to which you can climb, as well as the remains of the clock tower.
As a curiosity, in 1996 the Pope Juan Pablo II stayed three days in Tours to pray to San Martin, and then he took advantage of the visit to fix the street,
In this way you will now see that it is paved and with the cobblestones the places where the columns of the church were located are marked,
Next to the Charlemagne Tower You have a panel that describes how the church floor was and shows you drawings of the original building and how the street looked after the French Revolution.
Basilica of Saint Martin in Tours in Loire Valley
St. Martin's Basilica
The actual St. Martin's Basilica dates back to 186o when the tomb of St. Martin, which led to building a new architectural-style church neo-byzantine similar to Sacred Heart of Paris.
The architect wasVictor Laloux, the same one that built the railway stations of Orsay in Paris and the one of Tours.
Les Halles Market
In the visit to the cities I always like to visit the markets, because it gives you a reference of what everyday life is like in it.
And in the case of Tours its worth visiting Les Halles market Built in 1970 in this neighborhood.
Halles Market in Tours in Loire Valley
In the you will see establishments all very careful, type gourmet With high quality products.
To highlight the establishment of cheeses from Rodolfo le Meunièr, considered the best Workman of France for his work as tuner of cheeses, specialist in the elaboration of cheeses of the region, which are all of goat.
The Guinguette of Tours in the Loire
Although the atmosphere of bars and terraces is guaranteed in the aforementioned Plumareau square, in Tours there is no lack of tradition of leisure places known as guinguettes that are located on the banks of Loire river.
Have a beer or a soda in The Guinguette of Tours in the Loire and listen to live music, is the best way to close your day of tourism in this French city.
The Guinguette of Tours in the Loire
You have no loss, you find it next to the bridge that crosses the Loire prolonging the National street.
And to complete our proposals for your trip to the city of Tours, I am going to make a very special suggestion.
On the outskirts of the city, on the banks of the Loire river in Rochecorbon, you find the Art Hotel, an establishment located in a chateau from 1888, which in the past went from a reception center for political refugees to a residence for Seniors.
For just five years this classic chateauwhose outer staircase is considered monumental heritage, it is a very modern design hotel that combines black and white colors in all its elements and spaces.
With 17 rooms, it is currently very frequented by American and Japanese tourists, and as an element of its distinction, I will tell you that it is one of the charging points of electric cars Tesla.
Art Hotel in Rochecorbon near Tours
How to get to Tours
Tours is located 220 kilometers south of Paris, from where you arrive by car in just over two hours, and in TGV high speed train, In an hour.