Tours Garden City of France

A lovely medieval city in the Touraine region of France, Tours is awash with parks and gardens. It is a city that is at once proud of its heritage, yet accepting of contemporary style, music and fashion.

The Tourangeaux, as the locals are called, often liken their city to a mini Paris, but Tours has its own identity of which they should be equally proud.

At the heart of the city is a district which harks back to medieval times. Here, in la Place Plumereau are a row of medieval buildings that are half made of timber. Whilst the buildings themselves are ancient, the area is also known for its nightlife. The square is filled with tables so patrons can enjoy a good meal and sample wines of the Touraine. Whilst one of these shops once housed the armourer who outfitted Joan of Arc before the Siege of Orleans, these days many of the shops are occupied by young designers whose work is quite cutting edge, and the only obvious metal may be their music of choice.

Tours is a scenic city which is strategically placed between the rivers Loire and Cher. A slow stroll along the banks of the Loire is a must, where an avenue of willows form a cocoon above you with their weeping branches.

A prominent building is the cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Gatien. With a tower that soars to a height of 87 metres, the building took nearly 400 hundred years to complete when it was finished in 1547. It replaced a church which was first built in 330, but had been destroyed by fire several times. Because the cathedral took so long to build it incorporates several styles of architecture, which changed with the fashions over time.

To gain some appreciation of what Tours was like in its former days one should visit the The Musée des beaux-arts de Tours a museum that was formerly a Bishop’s palace. One the ground floor is display showing Tours in the 15th and 16th centuries. The museum also has a couple of oddities, including a stuffed elephant which once escaped from a circus, and a cedar of Lebanon that was planted by Napoleon.

Tours is very easy to reach as it has the fast TGV rail service to Paris, which can be reached in under an hour, and to Avignon and many other parts of France. The local airport is serviced by some low cost airlines, and it is well serviced by France’s autoroute links too.

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