Tours

Place Plumereau

Tours (with a silent s) is an important city located in the Loire Valley of west-central France. With a city population of 140,000, and 360,000 in the agglomeration, Tours is the largest city in Centre-Val de Loire, though the status of regional capital is held by Orléans. Tours sits on both the river Loire and its large tributary the Cher, with the city centre located between the two. The city has a number of attractions, including two cathedrals, a number of interesting museums and great local cuisine. Furthermore, Tours is excellently placed to serve as a base from which to explore the countless châteaux of the Loire Valley. The administrative département of Indre-et-Loire, of which Tours is the prefecture, is known almost exclusively to residents by its much older name of the Touraine, and is renowned for its wines and for the perfection of its local spoken French.

Get in

By plane

By train

From the United Kingdom

Eurostar from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford, changing to the French national network in either Lille or Paris, takes around 6 hours.

From Paris

The high-speed TGV is the fastest way to get to Tours from Paris and costs about 50€ each way. The journey from Paris Montparnasse (to Tours central station) takes just over 1 hour, while you can reach Tours from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in 2 hours (via Saint-Pierre-des-Corps). You could also take the slower Intercités train from Paris Austerlitz which passes Orléans and Blois too, taking a little over 2 hours. Tickets can be bought for about 25€ each way.

From elsewhere in France

Tours receives direct trains from Dijon, Lyon and Orléans as well as numerous smaller regional destinations.

By car

Tours is situated at the centre of a highway crossroads: the A10 between Paris and Bordeaux, the A85 from Nantes and Bourges, and the A28 from Le Mans and the rest of Normandy, including the English Channel ports of Cherbourg, Dieppe and Le Havre. The A10 passes between Tours and Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, and Boulevard Heurteloup links junction 21 to the city centre.

Get around

By public transport: bus, tram, train

Fil Bleu is the authority responsible for all public transport in Tours and the agglomeration. They operate:

Buses and trams generally operate between 05:00 and 01:00 every day of the week, though services are often reduced early mornings and late evenings, and on Sundays and bank holidays. The website offers timetables for every route and an electronic journey planner.

A single Fil Bleu fare costs 1€50 and can be used for up to an hour on any route, including changes. The fare for two journeys is 2€70 and a day pass costs 3€70. There are numerous other fares available for families, concessions, groups and other types of journey, the details of which can be reviewed (in French) on their website. Tickets can be purchased and recharged on board any bus (from the driver) and at every tram stop (using the machines on the platform), as well as at the Fil Bleu information centre on rue Charles Gille and in certain newsagents around Tours. You must validate your ticket or pass each time you board a bus or tram, even when making transfers, by pressing the ticket or pass to one of the blue touchscreens on board. There are frequent inspections on the network and if you are found to be travelling with a ticket or pass which hasn't been validated, you will be treated the same as a fare-evader and may be given an on-the-spot fine.

Maps of the Fil Bleu network can be downloaded from their website.

By bike

Cycling is one of the best ways to see the city; Tours lies at the heart of the Loire à Vélo project which has made the entire Loire Valley cyclable, and there are numerous bike rental stores.

Vélociti is the municipal bike hire scheme provided by Fil Bleu. Customers may rent a bike for 7€ a month from the Fil Bleu travel centre at 9, rue Michelet.

On foot

Central Tours is compact and very pedestrian friendly so walking is usually the easiest and most pleasant way to get around, particularly as many of the city centre streets are so narrow that the public transport network doesn't directly serve some of the major attractions. A visitors' guide with a recommended walking route can be picked up for free at the tourist office on the corner of rue Bernard Palissy / boulevard Heurteloup.

By car

Tours is compact enough that you will generally not need your car to get around town. A car would, however, be useful if you plan on exploring the towns, châteaux and countryside outside of Tours, though many sites of interest can be reached by public transport and by bike.

Beware that although Tours is easily driveable and not often congested, the many pedestrianised and limited-access streets in the city centre may mean your desired address isn't directly accessible to cars, though there will always be nearby on- or off-street parking.

There are numerous underground car parks in the city, such as at place du Général Leclerc (underneath the large square in front of the railway station), place des Halles (underneath the Halles market hall, ideal for visiting the old town), and at place Anatole France (easy access to the shops on rue Nationale).

See

Façade of the Cathedral

Visitor attractions

Interesting neighbourhoods

Typical house in Vieux Tours

Do

Walk through the old city, which is very colorful and full of old houses in the unique Tours style.

Learn

The Université Francois-Rabelais offers French courses for people of any level and from any country starting at the beginning of September and ending in May, costing between €1,000-€1,500. Classes are held at the Fromont campus west of the city centre in a quiet residential neighbourhood.

Buy


Brand shopping

There are several major shopping destinations in Tours. Most people who work in these shops are young so there is a large possibility that they will speak English. Never start speaking English with someone before asking politely : "Parlez-vous anglais?" (pronouncation : par-lay voo on-glay). It is also polite to start with "Bonjour" or "Bonsoir", depending on the time of day, before you say anything else.

Souvenirs and crafts

Food shopping

Apart from the Halles covered market hall (more about that below), there are a few food shops and supermarkets which may be useful for your stay. Note that almost everything of this genre is shut on Sundays.

Supermarkets

Artisan food stores

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Stay safe

Tours is a very safe city in comparison to other French cities. But if you don't speak French, you might get intimidated by homeless people asking you something in French, most likely asking for spare change or a cigarette if they see you smoking.

The quartiers to the south east of the city are best avoided at night, and there are many high-rise low-rent apartment buildings, but any area in Tours is safe during the daytime.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 18, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.