Places to visit in Tours

Tours Airport is one of the gateways used to reach the Loire Valley region of France, popular for it’s many attractions, and is therefore also known as the Tours Val de Loire Airport. It has the official code of TUF, and although important, is only a small establishment, serving just over 120,000 passengers per annum. Nevertheless, many tourists like to use the airport as a starting point to their holiday in the ‘Centre’ of France, as it is friendly and efficient, and offers a few transport options to the nearby city of Tours. Attractions in the vicinity include lovely parks and gardens, some interesting museums and the castles of the Loire Valley.

The city of Tours is often named as the ‘Le Jardin de la France’, or in English, as the Garden of France, for it boasts many spectacular areas of green that offer residents and visitors a quiet getaway from the city. It also celebrates a special and very popular event referred to as Green Day. One of the most popular green areas of Tours is the Jardin botanique de Tours, or the Tours botanical gardens. It is an area of five hectares, and is found at 33 Boulevard Tonnellé, in the Indre-et-Loire department of the region, the same department where Tours Airport is located. The garden has existed since 1843, which makes it the oldest public garden in the city. Over the years it has had it’s fair share of trouble, including a flood in 1856, when it ended up under two metres of water. It had to be re-constructed, and many of it’s trees needed re-planting. Today, however, the garden is a magical area of thousands of varieties of plants, shrubs, trees and all other types of vegetation. It also has a small area devoted to animals, an orangery and an exhibition greenhouse.

Additional interesting green spaces to visit include the Historic Garden, or the Prébendes of Oe which surrounds the Museum of Fine Arts, the Mirabeau Park, the plain of Gazebo and Park Cousinerie. All in all, Tours has nearly 360 acres of parkland for it’s visitors to enjoy, and attractions surrounding it’s love of the environment include lovely places to walk and regular flower markets.

The city of Tours is located between two rivers. In the north is the Loire river, and to the south is the Cher river. The rivers in many of the French cities are often used for various kinds of boating, and are often a lovely way to see the cities. Over the Loire river there are many wonderful bridges. Some have been re-built, such as the Pont Wilson that collapsed in 1978. Their re-construction has, however, not taken away any of their former charms, as they have been carefully rebuilt to as they were originally made. Towns and cities in the northern regions of France, including Tours, often boast building of white with blue slate roofs, whereas in the south of France many buildings of the cities have terracotta roofs. The blue slate roofs are also known as ‘Ardoise’, and they bring character to the city of Tours.

Tours attractions include it’s original medieval district, referred to as ‘le Vieux Tours’. La Place Plumereau is found in this part of the city, and is a square well known for it’s busy pubs and places to eat that often have open-air tables that take over the centre of the square. It’s a place where many of the locals accumulate, and somewhere that tourists can go to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the city. The Old City area of Tours is also home to preserved half-timber buildings that are considered quite unique. In the medieval city parts many wonderful markets and fairs can be enjoyed as well.

Two popular Tours attractions are the Tours Cathedral and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours, or the Museum of Fine Arts of Tours. The cathedral is partly from the twelfth century and partly from the fifteenth century. The lower parts of the western towers are from the earlier century, while the rest of the building shows the flamboyant Gothic style of the 15th century. The city of Tours is also very significant for Catholics who follow the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, which is a devotion that was started in 1843 by a nun - Sister Marie of St Peter. The Museum has quite a large collection of paintings, and is classified as a ‘monument historique’. There are approximately one thousand works of art on display to the public, and within the museum there is also a special area dedicated to works of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Some of the artists of the works in the museum include Andrea Mantegna, Antonio Vivarini, Giovanni di Paolo, Giuseppe Bazzani, Charles de La Fosse, Hubert Robert and Pierre Subleyras. Outside of the museum is a beautiful garden as well, with a courtyard. In front of the building is a room which houses a stuffed elephant that was once part of the circus parade ‘Barnum & Bailey’. The elephant had to be killed in Tours for madness, but the city still paid honour to him, and he was stuffed for remembrance.

Tours is also a city known for it’s inhabitants who are claimed to speak the purist form of the French language in the entire country, and as the largest city in the Centre region of France. However, it is not the regional capital, as it is Orleans which holds this title. The city is the starting point of the popular Paris-Tours bicycle race as well. The region, however, is famous for it’s wines and fine castles from ancient times. Some of the castles of note include the Castle Tours, the Chateau de Villandry, the Castle Rigny Ussé and the Château d’Azay-Le-Rideau. The Castle Rigny Ussé is known to be the famous castle of Sleeping Beauty, the fairytale told to children around the world.

Many more Tours attractions await those arriving at Tours Airport, and there are many wonderful towns in the area worthy of exploration. Details regarding the attractions in the area is available at the tourist information desk of Tours Airport, or at the Tourist Office at 78 to 82 rue Bernard Palissy.