"TOURING TOURS" Top 5 Page for this destination Tours by tiabunna

Tours Travel Guide: 198 reviews and 613 photos

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The city of Tours, with a population of almost 150,000 (maybe double that if the surrounding districts are counted) is well worthy of a visit as a destination in its own right, quite apart from being in the Loire chateaux and wine country. It is 240km from Paris, but can be reached by TGV in an hour to an hour and a half, depending if any stops are involved.

Its history predates Roman times, when it was called Turonensis. Much later, from time to time, the Kings of France also visited, their chateaux being nearby. More recently, it served briefly as France’s capital during the Prussian War of 1871, when the Government of National Defence based itself there during the siege of Paris. I was fascinated to read that the Government at that time set up a microphotography unit in Tours, so that carrier pigeons could maintain communications to Paris – carrying up to 40,000 microfilmed despatches at a time – a technology I would have thought much more recent! In World War II, a later Government also moved there briefly in 1940, before settling in at Vichy: but apparently not before extensive urban damage from bombing.

On our previous visit to France, Pauline and I had visited the Loire area, but had based ourselves in Amboise and had not visited Tours. I was keen to fill that gap, so I broke my Paris visit for a TGV excursion.

It must be said that, although pleasant, much of the ‘new’ Tours is unexceptional. But the ‘old town’ is marvellous and captivated me during my visit. Tours has much of the charm of Paris; it has history and character; it has a pleasant and relaxed feeling; it has the chateau and vineyard country surrounding it; and it has Paris ‘just up the road’ for a day trip by TGV. Much as I love Paris, I doubt I could live in any big city: but, given that combination of attractions, I feel I could happily live in Tours! (Thought… would that make me a ‘Tourist’ ?) J

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Stylish provincial city near Paris
  • Cons:None obvious, maybe ‘too quiet’ for some
  • In a nutshell:Well worth a visit – or longer stay
  • Last visit to Tours: May 2006
  • Intro Updated Jul 9, 2006
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Reviews (15)

Comments (38)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Aug 14, 2012 at 7:24 AM

    hi lovely page and photos as always! had meant to tour Tours when driving around the area but did get to Chenonceau and loved finding out that Mary Queen of Scots (who Id driven all around Scotland to see places she had been) had lived there as the young Queen of France until her husband, Catherines son died after only a year - seeing your lovely timbered building pics I want to head off there now!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2011 at 5:03 AM

    Hi George, I’ve still never been to Tours, but from your tips it looks like an extremely worthwhile destination. And it’s easy to get there from Paris by TGV, as long as there isn’t a strike going on.

  • ranger49's Profile Photo
    Mar 13, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    I really enjoyed this page - for me a trip down memory tracing the tour we did by car back in 1988! Makes me want to return. (No wind farms then). Thanks for the recall:)

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2009 at 7:27 PM

    Excellent page George. The fast train enables Tours to be a day trip, just what I am looking for. I guess the fast train is expensive.

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Oct 11, 2009 at 2:17 AM

    Grand castles, gardens - great photos/detail - beautiful stained glass - Villandry moat - lovely tour. Grazie <(•¿•)>

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2009 at 5:29 AM

    Thanks for a relaxed afternoon stroll through a pleasant village I had not thought of visiting. Good on you for the tips.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2009 at 7:17 PM

    George thank you for giving the history & anecdotes about these magnificent chateaux. Interesting to read. The photos are very good, especially the bewhiskered man who is NOT you! I can understand why you love France.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2009 at 6:54 PM

    I've had a lovey tour around "Tours" What beautiful Chateaus and gardens, I would be in my element there. So different to Australian gardens.

  • BillNJ's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2008 at 4:20 AM

    Interesting page! The photos of the Chateau de Chenonceau are great. Best regards from the USA, Bill

  • sennaya's Profile Photo
    Mar 17, 2008 at 9:44 PM

    Lovely green gardens in Villandry pictures!

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