Wondering what the best things to do in Tours, France? Then you are at the right place to know.
Center of an attractive area of more than half a million inhabitants, Tours is full of surprises and offers a lot. Located on the banks of the Loire, the city of Touraine shines in many aspects: cultural, architectural, historical, and natural…
Moreover, the city is dynamic and animated by its 30,000 students, whose young spirit breathes new life into a city with a long history.
Discover these essential things to do in Tours, oscillating between modernity and tradition, all embellished with the freshness transported by the Loire that crosses it from east to west.
The 9 Best Things To See and Do In Tours
1. The castles of the Loire
These French emblems delight thousands of visitors every year who come to discover their singularities.
These castles, planted along the river, are outstanding monuments, well preserved and still as attractive as in their infancy.
Those that interest us today for your future visit to Tours are the castles (and noble gardens) of Villandry, cinq-Mars, the Domain of Comté, and the fortress of Montbazon. All are located less than 15 kilometers from the city of Touraine, and they are easily accessible by car.
The castle of Tours
Located on the banks of the Loire, this castle is a must-see in Tours. Construction on the castle began in the eleventh century when it was only a keep and some outbuildings. Today it has become a city symbol with its long history.
But it is also a cultural center, where there are two museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art and the History Workshop of Tours, and two libraries specializing in archaeology.
Finally, at the Château de Tours, you will find many exhibitions (10 to 12 per year) on various themes, but always under the prism of art.
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2. The historic center
Visiting the city center is one of the most fun things to do in Tours! The Old Tours has very lively historic districts that are charming and authentic.
Many half-timbered houses line the busy Place Plumereau. It is a square animated by the bars and restaurants that engage it, thus galvanizing the festive atmosphere that happily reigns.
But you must also take a tour of the Place du Grand Marché, where stands a statue dedicated to Plumereau.
Another exciting place in the city is the passage of the Heart. Be sure to visit during your visit to Tours. It is a narrow covered alley connecting Rue Colbert and Place Foire-le-Roi.
It is not precisely dated, but it could have been there since the sixteenth century. Its name would find its origin in the convicts who crossed it to reach Foire-le-Roi, where the executions were held.
Architecture lovers cannot miss observing all the facades of buildings and buildings.
Whether on the Place Plumereau with houses dating from the fifteenth century or along with the Rue du Commerce, including the Hotel Goüin and its rare purely Renaissance architecture.
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3. Olivier Debré’s Centre for Contemporary Creation
Art lovers, get up! Olivier Debré’s Centre for Contemporary Creation – or CCCOD – is the Touraine reference for the art gallery! Located in the city center, this huge center advocates art in its most beautiful aspect through various events and exhibitions.
Discover the interior of the first contemporary art center, built-in 1994 and contracted by the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
In 1997, the CCCOD developed a new mission as an artists’ agency. Some artists are supported and guided in realizing their work by this label.
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4. Discover the local gastronomy
There is no better way to discover a city than trying its cuisine. It is still one of the essential things to do in Tours, the International City of Gastronomy. Then enjoy rillettes and rillons on fresh bread from one of the many bakeries in the city.
You can also find the Cormery macaroons, a delicacy that bears little resemblance to what we imagined it to be. Although they remain a delight to taste once in a lifetime, macaroons remain a delight to taste.
It is also within the Halles de Tours where you will find the freshest and most delicious local products in a market garden atmosphere that is trendy inside and appreciated by the locals.
If you want to stop and treat yourself, we recommend that you take a break at the Casse-Cailloux restaurant. It is run by Chef Hervé Chardonneau and is very famous in the area.
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5. Go Bike Tours
A very common practice, visiting a city by bike allows you to get a completely different overview. So, you can imagine that if we advise you to visit Tours by bike, it’s worth looking!
Walk the alleys sealed on your bike and let yourself be swayed by contemplation as you journey through circuits that differ according to the providers (but which, in the end, will all reveal the same thing, which is the must-sees of Tours).
The banks and bridges spanning the Loire are yours. It is also an excellent way to rediscover what you have already visited, such as the Old Tours and its medieval quarter.
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6. The museums of Tours
Cultural city, as has already been mentioned several times, the city of Tours has fascinating museums.
With their permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History gives a glimpse into many eras and natural worlds (still or alive).
The first is located in the former episcopal palace of the city, while the second borders the Place Anatole France, near the Loire.
It is also one of the buildings in Touraine that suffered the most damage during the Second World War, losing almost all of its collections.
But visiting Tours also means discovering atypical museums, such as the Compagnonnage Museum.
It was set up in the Abbey of Saint-Julien and presented the productions of the Compagnons du Devoir (a community movement focused on learning values and the love of a job well done for young people from 15 years old).
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7. Taste the local wines
What would your stay in Tours be without a wine tasting? Failure! Indeed, tasting wines from such a wine region is one of the must-do things in Tours.
The Touraine vineyard is wide and includes many grape varieties that develop ideally with the region’s soils and the local climate.
For example, there are no less than 10 AOC grape varieties that can be found in a nearby radius: Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgueil, Touraine, Montlouis-sur-Loire and other Touraine with compound names (Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau, Touraine-Amboise, etc …).
If you enjoy red wine, you will be served. Moreover, there are wine tours from Tours to discover the maximum while enjoying the landscapes.
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8. Religious buildings
Like all cities with a long history, Tours has a few religious buildings that witness a more spiritual past.
They are numerous, but some of these religious buildings stand out, such as the Basilica of St. Martin and its white façade with a very recognizable neo-Byzantine style.
It is recent (nineteenth century) and located in the Old Tours, facing the Charlemagne tower, a relic of the old basilica, also dedicated to Saint-Martin-de-Tours.
During your visit to Tours, do not miss the Saint-Gatien Cathedral, whose construction began in the twelfth century and was completed in the sixteenth century.
It is a mecca of art and history, not only because of its impressive architectural style. Note that its two towers reach a height of nearly 70 meters!
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9. Stroll along the banks of the Loire and its two islands
There’s nothing like enjoying a stay in Tours to stroll a bit on the banks of the Loire. On the north side, as on the south side, the city reveals itself in its finest finery.
Observe the ancestral and traditional facades imbued with modernity and life. Each step brings you closer to appreciating this city with immeasurable charm.
Take the opportunity to contemplate the two islands that cut the Loire: Aucard Island and Simon Island.
You can also access Aucard Island via the Saint-Symphorien footbridge, reserved for pedestrians and cyclists. As for Simon Island, its access is via the Napoleon Bridge that spans it.
These two islands are very wooded relaxation areas with some amenities, including Simon Island, which houses the Honoré de Balzac Park in honor of the writer born Tourangeau. Moreover, it is sometimes nicknamed Balzac Island.
● The botanical garden of Tours;
● The garden of the Prébendes d’Oé;
● City Hall;
● Attend an opera at the Grand Théâtre de Tours;
● Sailing on the Loire… or the Cher;
● Surrounding cities : Blois, Poitiers, Orléans, Le Mans, Angers…
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How to get to Tours?
Like many large cities, there are several ways to get to Tours. No fewer than three motorways border the city: the A28 from the north, the A10 from the east, and the A85 from the south.
The city is served by bus lines, which you might find interesting depending on your departure city.
The train option is exciting given the speed of the journey between Paris Montparnasse station and Tours station: only 1 hour! Tours train station also offers trips to Massy (Orly), Marne-la-Vallée or Roissy, among other French destinations.
To get to Tours by plane, you must consider arriving via Nantes (220km) if you are not coming from Marseille, as it is the only city with which the Tourangeau airport has direct flights.
You can quite imagine making a stopover in Marseille, in this case. It will be up to you to see what is most convenient for you.
First of all, consult an online flight comparator like Skyscanner to learn more about the offers of the moment.
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Where to stay in Tours?
Beyond discovering all the essential things to do in Tours, do not forget that you will have to rest. Luckily, it is a city that has managed to balance historical tradition and urban modernity. Thus, it is a nice mix that she offers us in terms of accommodation.
If you want to stay in the Old Tours, you will be welcomed in authentic buildings with modern comfort.
Besides, you will be close to the great attractions of the city. Hotels and Airbnbs are available in abundance and for all types of budgets.
Other places, another atmosphere, the districts of Beaujardin and Grammont are not left out. They are quieter because they are out of the urban tumult animating the city center.
These are more upscale and discreet areas with a significant housing offer.
A hotel comparator or Airbnb website can provide you with an idea of your budget to allocate, and you can choose the accommodation best suited to your needs and desires.
Good deal: the Tours City Pass
The Tours City Pass is a ticket that will give you free access to many of the city’s sights and cultural sites. You also benefit from discounts from merchants and partner activities.
As with other city passes, it is possible to choose the duration: 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours for 20, 30, or 40 euros, respectively. It remains valid for one year after the date of purchase.
I hope you find the article on the best things to do in Tours, France useful. Have a safe journey.