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Modern, green, trendy, cultural and historical – you can never get bored in Tours.
Born and raised in Tours, I could easily lose all sense of objectivity when it comes to describing my hometown.
However, a quick glance into what the many wonders the city has to offer will prove me right: Tours is an amazing place to visit!
Place Plumereau, better known as ‘Place Plum’, is the place to be in Tours.
At the heart of the old city quarter, a few steps from the Loire river, Place Plum was voted the most beautiful terrace for an “apéritif” by Lonely Planet in 2014!
You can easily understand why when you look at the gorgeous “maisons à colombages”, half-timbered houses, around the square.
The Loire is the longest river in France.
1012 km long, it runs across more than a fifth of France’s area.
Whether you want to have a picnic, enjoy the sunset from one of the beautiful bridges, hop on your bike or simply take a nice walk, there is always something nice to do by the river!
Picture: Loire from bridge
If you visit Tours during the summer, don’t miss the Ginguette.
From the beginning of June to the end of September, the Tourangeaux gather at this open-air café. Drinks, food, music and dancing by the river: what else do you need when the sun is out?
Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Loire Valley has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List?
A great and eco-friendly way to discover it is by bike, thanks to the “Loire à vélo”, a 800 km trail that goes through 6 French departements.
Tours has 50 parks and green spaces!
In 2017, Tours has been declared the French city with “the most significant amount of green space accessible to the public” by the Observatoire des Villes Vertes (Green Cities Observatory).
It means that Tours offers the densest and the most varied green spaces for inhabitants and visitors to enjoy, with 381 hectares of green spaces.
Here is a glimpse of my personal favourite parks…
L’Île Simon, a lovely island just a few minutes from the city centre.
Everytime I go there, I feel like I am in my own bubble! Weather permitting, you can even go down to the river, take your shoes off and feel the sand between your toes…
Le Jardin Botanique, where you can pet farm animals and meet flamingos, wallabies and tortoises!
Le Jardin du musée des Beaux-Arts, with its majestic Lebanese cedar tree and Fritz, a stuffed elephant!
Of course, we can’t talk about a French city without talking about its gastronomy.
In Tours, we are extremely proud of our “rillettes”, a kind of pork pâté that you spread on bread.
It was first invented in the 15th century, so it is definitely rooted in our traditions!
The great French authors Rabelais and Balzac, who were both from Touraine, even wrote about our rillettes. Rabelais described them as “la brune confiture de cochon” – “the brown pig jam”.
And because the French are big charcuterie lovers, Tours is no exception: we are also famous for our “rillons”, small pieces of pork belly that you eat hot or cold, in a salad.
You can have your rillettes and rillons with a glass of wine – the Loire Valley is the largest wine producing area in France! The area is thus well known for its wines, such as Montlouis, Chinon, Bourgueil and Vouvray.
What about cheese? Don’t worry, we do have beautiful cheese as well… don’t forget to try le Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, a log-shaped goat cheese, protected by the AOC* seal of quality.
We also have your sweet tooth covered, with the “nougat de Tours”, a kind of cake on a sweet dough, with almond, apricot jam and candied fruits.
Bon appétit !
*AOC, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, can be translated as “Protected Designation of Origin”. It is a French seal granted to protect products with a long history in a specific area, and to enable them to maintain their identity in the marketplace.
Tours is a city always on the go. We have many cultural events organised throughout the year.
What about spending a whole night watching movies?
That is what “La nuit des Studio” offers every year in June! From 6PM to dawn, you can choose to see up to 5 movies for only €19!
You would rather dance the night away?
Not a problem: Aucard de Tours and Terres du Son are the two main music festivals in Tours and take place every summer. Terres du Son gathers more than 30 000 people every year, for 3 crazy days of music at a huge outside venue.
Are you into wine?
Vitiloire has everything you need.
Every year at the end of May, wine producers come to Tours to present their finest wines. Many free events are organised throughout the weekend for this very special occasion.
For history lovers can go back in time when strolling along the gorgeous “vieux Tours”, the old city quarters, with its half-timbered houses and cobblestones streets.
You will see amazing historical monuments such as the Saint-Gatien Cathedral, Saint-Julien Church and the Basilica of Saint-Martin.
Not so lucky with the weather?
Even though we have a mild climate in Tours, it does rain from time to time.
However, you can still find plenty of nice things to keep yourself busy on a rainy day.
You will just have to choose from going shopping on the busy main streets, watching a movie at our independent cinema Les Studio, or visiting one of the many museums.
Now you will almost hope for rainy days!
Whether you are a bit tired or you are looking for a different way of discovering the city, I would recommend you take a tour in the “calèche”.
This horse-drawn carriage will take you on a 50-minute tour around the city centre for only €1.50!
You will get to see the city from a different angle while being nicely rocked by the sound of horse steps on the pavement… equally exciting for adults and children!
In the Musée des Beaux-Arts park, you can meet Fritz, an elephant that used to work in an American circus, Barnum and Bailey. The circus started touring Europe in 1901. During a parade in Tours in June 1902, Fritz went out of control and had to be killed. The director of the circus then gave him as gift to the people of Tours.
Bobby was a seal that used to live in the Jardin Botanique. He was only 2 when he was captured and given to the city of Tours in 1953. He died in 1992 and we can still see him in the Natural History Museum!
Sometimes, you can randomly see a goat in Tours city centre… be reassured, she’s not alone. An old man, that everyone calls “l’homme à la chèvre” – “the man with the goat”- walks around the city with his goat pet. They have become well known in Tours, but it’s always a funny sight!
Tours is also a central point to tour the Loire Valley Castles.
So if you have time to spare, don’t forget to visit the unmissable Châteaux de la Loire and the many adorable villages in the region!
I hope the only thing you want to do after reading this article is book your trip to Tours!
To end this article on a high note and to introduce you to Tours “joie de vivre”, I recommend you watch this fun video that will surely put a smile on your face!
(spoiler alert: you will see the goat I was writing about…)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anousha Bonnemaison is an intern at Alliance Française de Cork from January to May 2017. She taught in London and was a cultural director for a French House in the USA. She will get her master’s degree in Sociolinguistics and Language Didactics from the University of Tours, France, in June 2017.
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