Tours, Loire Valley: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Tours in Indre-et-Loire

Visit Tours (Loire Valley, France)


The town of Tours is in the Indre-et-Loire department of the Centre region (the Loire Valley), and it is the largest town in the region. A busy, thriving town Tours is also only an hour to the south-west of Paris. Despite having quite a lot of modern development around the town it contains some interesting features that attract visitors and tourism.

Exploring Tours

The main attraction in Tours, and the best place to start your visit, is in and around Place Plumereau where the old town (vieille ville or 'le Vieux Tours') is found. Place Plumereau is also a great place to sit at one of the cafes and enjoy people-watching.

Around the edges of the square there are beautiful 12th to 15th century half timbered houses and it’s a great place to sit and have a drink or eat your lunch.

view along the river in ToursThere are also a number of splendid and grand houses dating from the Renaissance period found in this part of the town. Look out for the Hotel Gouin with a lovely Renaissance façade. The archeaology museum is now housed in the building.

Cathedral and other monuments

The Cathedral Saint-Gatien is also centrally placed, and contains the tombs of the children of Charles VIII. Most notable, although part of the cathedral dates from the 12th century, much of the western end was built in the 15th century in so-called 'flamboyant gothic' style.

Adjacent to the cathedral are the cloisters of la Psalette - an impressive structure in a mix of architectural styles with elaborate stonework and a beautiful renaissance staircase. In part of the cloisters you can see the room where religious chanting was practiced.

The cloisters are now listed as one of 85 National Monuments in France.

Next to the cathedral is the Museum of Fine Arts housed in the Archbishops Palace. There is also a cedar tree in the garden of the Archbishops palace, famous for being planted by Napoleon.

Nearby and next to the river is the Chateau of Tours but now only two towers remain. The Tour de Guise houses a wax-work museum and a Tropical Aquarium.

museum of fine artsAlso in Tours you can see some vestiges of the time when it was an important Roman town. The so-called 'Gallo-Roman City' is also near the cathedral.

Among the other religious monuments in Tours are the Church of Saint-Julien, combining both roman and gothic styles of architecture, and the Basilica of Saint-Martin (with a dome and completed less than 100 years ago).

More recent the region around the river and running along the road either side of the bridge has some impressive classical style buildings dating from Tours period of prosperity in the 18th century.

Parcs and gardens in Tours

For a change from the bustle of the streets there are several public parks and gardens in Tours.

We enjoyed a visit to the Botanic gardens, an extensive area of trees, gardens and water features opposite the Bretonneau Hospital to the west of the centre and also a stroll around the lake in the Jardin des Prébendes d'Oé in the town centre (rue Roger Salengro).

There are many others that we did not unfortunately have time to visit, which you will find on the map given out by the tourist office.

Other information

As you would expect of a major town such as Tours you will also find a wide range of shops, restaurants and all other commerces. There are also markets held in different parts of the town almost every day of the week.

Note: be prepared for a fair bit of walking when you visit Tours as Place Plumereau is in one part of the centre of town, the cathedral and Archbishops Palace in another, and then the main shopping area is a fair walk away around the Place Jean Jaures where the attractive Hotel de Ville and Palais de Justice can be found.

Attractions nearby

Of course no visit to the Loire Valley would be complete without visiting a castle or two. Several of the most important castles are within easy reach of Tours, including those at Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau and Villandry. See Loire Valley castles for information.

To the west of Tours the river passes through the Regional Natural Parc of Loire-Anjou-Touraine towards Saumur with a great deal of scenic beauty to enjoy and picturesque villages such as Crissay-sur-Manse, Montsoreau and Candes-Saint-Martin.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Indre-et-Loire guide and the Loire Valley guide.

See also:

Map of Tours and places to visit

Visit near Tours with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Indre-et-Loire

Tourist classifications

Tours has received the following tourist classifications: listed town of Art and History ; historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*

Address: Tours, Indre-et-Loire, Loire Valley, 37000, France || GPS: latitude 47.393, longitude 0.6891

Plan your visit to Tours, Loire Valley

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Cloisters of la Psalette: national monument
  • Le jardin des Prébendes d'Oé: remarkable garden
  • Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire: ville fleurie 4*
  • Les jardins du prieuré de Saint-Cosme: remarkable garden (2km)
  • Les jardins du château de Villandry: remarkable garden (14km)
  • Parc et jardins du château de Valmer: remarkable garden (15km)
  • Aquarium du Val-de-Loire: aquarium (17km)
  • Les jardins de la Chatonnière: remarkable garden (22km)
  • Amboise: secteur sauvegarde (22km)
  • Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau: national monument (22km)

The French version of this page is at Tours (Francais)