Top French Cities - Tours at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Tours Tourism Office at

City region: Loire Valley / Centre-Val de Loire

Population & what they are called: 136,125 inhabitants (2014 census), called Tourangeaux

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 2 h 30 min (150 miles) via the A10 autoroute l'Aquitaine

  • by train: about 1 h 10 min by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Honoré de Balzac, novelist

  • René Descartes, mathematician and philosopher

  • Olivier Debré, artist

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • In the garden of the Palais des Archevêques (now the Musée des Beaux-Arts), aka Jardin François Sicard, is a huge cedar tree said to have been planted by Napoleon, as well as an alcove with a stuffed elephant who escaped from a circus and had to be shot.

Notable sites:

  • Vieux Tours – medieval district, one of the best preserved in France, with many half-timbered buildings and the busy Place Plumereau

  • Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours – begun in the 12th century but not completed until the Renaissance

** Basilique Saint-Martin – a Neo-Byzantine church that is the final resting place of Saint Martin

Top annual events:

  • Vitiloire – a public Loire Valley wine salon involving more than 150 wine makers (

  • Tours et ses Francos Gourmandes – as a Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie en Val de Loire, Tours knows how to celebrate food

  • Florilège Vocal de Tours – one of the most important international choral singing competitions, fittingly held in Tours, a center of traditional music (

Most notable museums:

  • Musée des Beaux-Arts – located in the former Palais des Archevêques, a little bit of everything in this fine arts museum, from Rubens to Rembrandt and Mantegna to Monet (

  • Centre de Création Contemporaine Olivier Debré (CCCOD) – focused on contemporary art, especially the work of Olivier Debré, an important abstract artist (

  • Musée d'Art Contemporain du Château de Tours – a display of contemporary paintings, photography, pottery, sculpture in an old castle

Culinary specialties:

  • rillettes and rillons – meat cooked in fat until it is tender, then shredded and cooled to form a paste; the latter is a confit of cooked diced pork covered in a fat spread

  • cheeses – especially the white and creamy Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, made from full fat goat's milk

  • nougats de Tours – a cake made from sweetened dough, almond paste, candied fruits and apricot jam

Local wines & spirits:

  • Touraine AOC wines – part of the third largest wine region of France, with whites (sweet, dry and bubbly) like Vouvray and Montlouis, rosés like Noble-Joué and Chinon rosé, and reds such as Chinon, Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil


  • markets – the Carreau des Halles de Tours is the twice-weekly market heart of the city, while the Marché Velpeau is the Sunday go-to with more than 180 vendors

  • Quartier Colbert and Rue Scellerie – everything from antiques and books (Rue Colbert) to fashion, design and food (Rue Scellerie)

  • Quartier Nationale – Rue Nationale is the number one commercial strip of Tours

Most popular night spots:

  • Place Plumereau – surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants and a pedestrian zone with even more

  • Le Temps Machine – a leading performance hall and events venue

  • bars – like Le Dago'Bar (wine bar), The Pale (Irish pub) and Le Winchester (cafe by day, music bar by night)

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • banks for the Loire – an ideal place for running, pedaling and pausing in the local guinguettes (open-air restaurants)

  • city parks – La Gloriette, les Prébendes, Jardin des Beaux Arts (aka Jardin François Sicard, read the unique fact above), Jardin Botanique account for just a few of the 1,500 acres of green space so central to life in Tours

  • bicycling – much-traveled and much-loved signed bike routes along the Loire (

Local industries:

  • Cité de la Création et du Numérique – a former industrial zone called Mame, converted into a facility supporting creativity and technological innovation, start-ups, research and development labs, new technology incubators and a fine arts school (mame-

  • Cosmetic Valley – the largest and most important business cluster specialized in the production of perfumes and cosmetics consumer goods

In Pop Culture:

  • Le Bleu des Villes – a 1998 movie about a meter maid in Tours who takes control of her life

  • Le Temps Machine – an artistic and cultural project designed to bring together a broad cross-section of performers... and their fans (

  • Festival Terres du Son – a laboratory of experimentation and sensitization about enjoying good


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency
New York, 10022
United States