Several parks located throughout the city gave the city the nickname ‘the garden of France’. Once an ancient Gallo-Roman city, Tours became the capital of the Kingdom France from the mid-15th century to the mid-16th century. Famous castles such as Amboise, Blois and Villandry are still open for visitors and are easy to reach by public transport. Only 55 minutes by TGV away from Paris make Tours an excellent getaway to discover the many castles in its surroundings. But the charming city itself is a very interesting destination to visit.
In 2000, the UNESCO declared the Loire Valley including Tours, a World Heritage Site. With 800 square kilometers (300 square miles) this is one of the biggest areas ever accepted by UNESCO.
Museum of Fine Arts
The museum is housed in the former archbishop's palace. The museum hosts some fine pieces of furniture and an attractive collection of French and foreign painters from the middle ages to the 20th century with paintings from Rubens, Rembrandt and Degas. Local gems include Boulanger's portrait of Balzac, and engravings of The Five Senses by the locally born Abraham Bosse.
Cathedral of Saint Gatien
The major monument in the eastern quarter today is the gracious Gothic cathedral. Admire its beautiful buttresses and charming carvings. From all over Tours the great west towers of the Cathedral are visible. The flamboyant Cathedral offers some of the finest 13th century stained glass windows. Just beyond the south transept stands the tomb of the sons of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne.
The streets around the cathedral are full of atmosphere, some still hushed with religious silence, others will temp you with delicious boutiques.
Castles around Tours
In the surroundings of Tours there are many castles waiting to be explored. Travel to the stunning gardens of the Early French Renaissance castle in Villandry, built on the banks of the river Cher. Another cultural gem is the castle Amboise. This castle was really the first royal residence built in a French Gothic and Renaissance style. Today, the chateau still owns an exceptional collection of furniture, beautifully preserved.