Tours is a municipality in western France located on the banks of the Loire and Cher rivers, the capital of the department of Indre-et-Loire. Capital of Touraine, Tours was classified by the French State as a City of Art and History and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 when the Loire Valley as a whole was recognized by UNESCO. With its half-timbered houses, its white stone buildings built with the famous “tuffeau” of the region, its museums, its guinguettes and its small restaurants, Tours is a city that combines culture, history and gastronomy and is the starting point for a visit to the famous Châteaux de la Loire. Whether you are with your partner, family or friends, you can visit the old city of Tours on foot in one day or visit Tours and its surroundings in 2 or 3 days, for a weekend. Visit www.touraineloirevalley.co.uk/ and learn more about the City of Tours.
What to visit in Tours? What to see in Tours? Discover the places to visit in the center of Tours, but also a selection of the best things to do in Tours and its region.
Cathedral of Saint-Gatien de Tours
The Cathedral of Saint-Gatien de Tours is part of the city’s history. Dedicated to Saint Gatien, the first bishop of Tours, it is characterised by its two towers, 68 and 69 meters high, which allow it to be seen from a distance. Built from the 13th century and completed in the 16th century, Saint-Gatien Cathedral has passed through several historical periods, which explains the coexistence of different architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque. Inside the cathedral, you can admire the choir, a 13th century masterpiece that evokes the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris. You can also visit the tomb of the sons of Charles VIII or admire the famous collection of dazzling stained glass windows that adorn the chapel and windows. From inside, you can also access the cloister of La Psalette, which takes its name from the singing of the psalms from the adjoining music school.
Saint Martin’s Basilica
The Basilica of Saint Martin is a religious monument built between 1886 and 1902 by the architect Victor Laloux. It is a Romano-Byzantine style building made of several materials: limestone, granite, marble and slate. The interior of the basilica will seduce you with its decor: neo-Romanesque capitals, wall paintings, or even beautiful glass roof representing the life of Saint Martin and stained-glass windows featuring several characters from the time. The crypt houses the tomb of Saint Martin, the most famous of the bishops of Tours and you will also find its statue that crowns the dome.
Saint Martin’s Basilica was preceded by a former collegiate church, one of the most important sanctuaries of Christianity, of which only two towers remain today: the Charlemagne Tower and the Clock Tower, which rise next door and were classified as historical monuments in 1840.
Museum of Fine Arts
If you love art and culture, the Musée des Beaux Arts de Tours is a place not to be missed! It is located at the foot of the cathedral, in the former palace of the Archbishops of Tours, and it consists of three buildings built between the 13th and 18th centuries. Surrounded by a French-style garden, the Musée des Beaux Arts houses several temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection. You will thus enjoy a real journey through the history of art, with the presence of works from the 13th century to today, passing through the art of the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum also provides play activities for children.
A walk on the banks of the Loire
Built between 1765 and 1778, Wilson Bridge is the oldest bridge in Tours. It is nicknamed the “stone bridge” and, with its 434 metres long, connects the northern and southern shores. It is a not to be missed itinerary that allows you to walk with a view of the Loire.