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

Major 2020 developments:

  • In 2000 a 170-mile stretch of the Loire Valley and the sister region of Western Loire were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from Sully-sur-Loire in the Loire Valley to Chalonnes-sur-Loire in the Western Loire.

About Top French Cities -

Top French Cities is an association of 29 cities, from regional capitals like Bordeaux to important towns like Avignon and Versailles. They are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget. Most of these cities are university towns with a youthful atmosphere, but all of them reflect the heritage and distinctive flavors of the regions to which they belong. Many are forward-looking too, with historic buildings repurposed to house contemporary art and activity centers like Les Docks in Marseille. Many have created or integrated new, modern museums to contrast with their classical, architectural heritage, like in Nimes, where the cutting-edge Museum of Roman Civilization (Musée de la Romanité) is located across from the historic Roman amphitheater, or in Nantes, where whimsical mechanical creatures are being created, or in the UNESCO World Heritage Site concrete city of Le Havre.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency