Worth the visit : Tours, capital of the Loire Valley (day 2)

Welcome to the second part of this series dedicated to the discovery of the city of Tours, capital of Touraine and the wines of the Loire Valley!

As a historical city, Tours is a top destination for culture and gastronomy lovers. During this day of your visit, we suggest that you discover the must-see places of the city on foot, from the majestic Saint-Gatien Cathedral to the charming Place Plumereau, passing through the Halles de Tours and the Olivier Debré Contemporary Creation Center.

Follow the guide and let yourself be charmed by the cultural and gastronomic heritage of Tours.

Dégustation de vin en terrasse à Tours
Sunday 09:00

Warming up with a visit to the Tours Cathedral and the old Roman district.

The Saint-Gatien Cathedral of Tours is a must-see stop. Built between the 13th and 16th centuries, it is one of the most remarkable examples of Gothic architecture in France.

Inside, you can admire the magnificent stained-glass windows, which date from all periods, but with a particularly attentive eye for those depicting the passion of Christ and dating from the 13th century.

The Saint-Gatien Cathedral also houses a painting of Saint Martin giving away half of his cloak. Not that the painting is exceptional in itself, but because Saint Martin is an icon in Tours. This painting tells the story of Saint Martin, bishop of Tours in the 4th century, who gives half of his cloak to a beggar. This scene is very popular in France and has been represented many times in art and literature.

Cathédrale de Tours : tableau de Saint-Martin
Tableau de Saint-Martin dans la Cathédrale de Tours

After visiting the Saint-Gatien Cathedral, I suggest you take a walk in the neighborhood behind the cathedral, which was once the historic heart of the city of Tours during Roman times.

You can stroll through picturesque streets such as Rue Manceau and Rue du Général Meunier, where you can admire the beautiful half-timbered houses typical of the region.

Sunday 10:00

The Rue Nationale in Tours, commercial heart of the city

As you walk down Rue Colbert (or Rue de la Scellerie, which will take you past the Grand Theatre), you will arrive at Rue Nationale, one of the most important thoroughfares in Tours.

This street is crossed by the tramway and is full of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Don’t hesitate to stop for a coffee and admire the impressive perspective of this street, which extends for several kilometers in a straight line from north to south.

The Rue Nationale is a lively and dynamic place that will allow you to discover the atmosphere of the city of Tours and do some shopping.

Sunday 11:00

A visit to the "Halles de Tours" (covered market) to taste white wine and oysters

The Halles de Tours are a must-visit for food lovers.

Located in the heart of the city, these market halls have a history dating back to the Middle Ages. They were built in 1866 by the architect Gustave Guérin. The architecture of the Halles de Tours is impressive with a remarkable wooden structure and a large metal roof.

Inside, you’ll find a wide variety of fresh food products, including fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood.

I suggest you stop at one of the unique stands in the market to taste white wine and oysters, a specialty of the region.

Ask any of the merchants as soon as you enter, and everyone will point you in the right direction. Even though the halls are not very large, everyone knows where to find it!

Sunday 12:30

Visit of old Tours and its famous Place Plumereau

Place Plumereau is a historic and picturesque square in Tours, which is highly appreciated for its lively terraces and half-timbered buildings.

Locals affectionately call it “place Plume”.

I suggest you settle down at one of the terraces on Place Plumereau for a sunny lunch and to enjoy the lively atmosphere of the square. You can admire the beautiful half-timbered facades of the surrounding buildings and watch people go by.

Place Plumereau à Tours
Place Plumereau à Tours et ses célèbres maisons à colombages

The Place Plumereau is a historic and picturesque square in Tours, which is highly appreciated for its lively terraces and half-timbered buildings. The locals affectionately call it “place Plume”.

It was completed in 1902 and owes its name to Charles Plumereau, a local businessman who bequeathed part of his assets to the city. The city decided to thank Mr. Plumereau by naming this historic square after him.

Take advantage of this lunch break to discover local cuisine and taste regional specialties, accompanied by a glass of wine… It’s the perfect place to relax and recharge after a morning of sightseeing.

You can take a short digestive walk in this “old Tours” neighborhood. Back to the Middle Ages.

Sunday 14:30

Visit to the Hotel Goüin and buying wine at the Belle Caves de Tours

If you are passionate about history and architecture, don’t miss the chance to visit the Hôtel Goüin during your visit to Tours. And it’s just a stone’s throw from the “Place Plume”.

It is a 15th-century mansion located in the Old Tours, which is one of the few remnants of Renaissance architecture in the city.

The Hôtel Goüin now houses temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and design, as well as cultural events. So you can discover interesting and varied exhibitions, while admiring the beauty of this historic building.

On your way out, you can make a quick stop at the “Belles Caves” to buy one or two souvenir bottles (it’s convenient, it’s at number 25 Rue du Commerce, just to the left as you exit the Hôtel Goüin!).

Sunday 15:30

Take a cultural break with a visit to the Contemporary Art Center (CCC OD) or the Fine Arts Museum of Tours.

Continuing on the cultural vein, don’t miss the CCC OD (Olivier Debré Contemporary Creation Center) during your visit to Tours. It’s a unique opportunity to discover contemporary works of art in a beautiful setting that overlooks Rue Nationale (again) and faces Saint-Julien Church.

The CCC OD houses four temporary exhibition spaces, an auditorium, a café-restaurant, and a bookstore.

This art center offers the public the opportunity to have a true experience of art, in a spirit of sharing, life, and encounter. The programming occasionally puts Olivier Debré’s work, a major figure of 20th century painting and a local artist, in dialogue with contemporary artists.

If you’re interested in more traditional art, don’t hesitate to visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours, which houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The museum is located in the former Archbishop’s Palace and its rich collections are definitely worth a visit.

Le cèdre du Liban du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours
Le cèdre du Liban du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours

If you’re not really a fan of contemporary art, don’t worry, there’s always the Museum of Fine Arts in Tours! You can admire superb paintings by Mantegna, antique sculptures, as well as other more classical works. Not to mention the magnificent Lebanese cedar that welcomes you at the entrance!

And for lovers of modern art, don’t miss the immense canvas by Olivier Debré in the museum’s entrance hall, which represents the Loire river in all its majesty. You can’t miss it, it’s really gigantic!

Sunday 17:00

Visit of Tours : that's all folks!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and it’s time to leave the beautiful city of Tours. Take the time for a final stroll through the streets and admire the city one last time before heading to the Tours train station. The high-speed train will take you comfortably and quickly to your next destination. But don’t worry, the city of Tours and its many treasures will always be waiting for you for another visit. Goodbye Tours, see you soon!