Our Hotels in Tours
This intoxicating combination of history and modern culture is not the only reason to visit Tours. It's also the ideal base for exploring the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its grand châteaux, authentic cuisine and dedication to French art de vivre. For those seeking an escape from the daily grind, the fertile, riverine landscapes of Tours and the Loire offer a return to a more peaceful way of life – where fairy-tale castles can be found around every turn and quiet country roads lead to adventurous days spent immersing yourself in local culture.
Planning on booking a trip? Accor offers a full portfolio of hotels in old town Tours and on the cusp of the surrounding countryside.
Top Things to Do in Tours
Ask any local what to do in Tours and they will likely suggest Place Plumereau as your first stop. This gorgeous square in the historic centre of Tours once served as the city's hat market; these days, it's an iconic gathering place famous for its postcard-perfect timbered houses and quaint pavement cafés. From here, a labyrinth of winding streets spans out into the old town – a siren call for any adventurous traveller. Take a slow stroll to Saint-Gatien Cathedral, the city's most famous place of worship.
Construction on the cathedral began in the second half of the 13th century and was completed close to 300 years later. As such, while it's primarily a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, it also serves as a catalogue of the many different building styles that can be seen throughout your old Tours visit. Be sure to wander inside, where magnificent stained glass windows and the marble tomb of the children of Charles VII and Anne of Brittany await. The adjacent Cloisters of La Psalette are also well worth exploring – especially for fans of Honoré de Balzac, who featured them in his legendary opus, "La Comédie Humaine".
Other must-see religious sights include the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mark the tomb of the city's famous saint. Mass is held here every day at 11 a.m.; but for many tourists to Tours, the basilica is most beautiful when illuminated at night. Across the street from the modern basilica lie the ruins of the Collegiate Church of Saint Martin, destroyed during the French Revolution. Not much now remains except the impressive Charlemagne Tower, which was preserved by the local people to serve as a clock tower for the nearby market.
Cultural Activities in Tours
Many historical landmarks now double as exciting venues for Tours plays, concerts and museum collections. The former Benedictine abbey known as Saint Julian Basilica houses Musée du Compagnonnage, an exhibit devoted to the talented world of France's trade guilds. Many of them have been refining their craft since the Middle Ages, and the museum is filled with exquisite examples of carpentry, stonemasonry, ceramics, embroidery and more.
For something a little more modern, take a five-minute stroll through the old town to the Centre of Contemporary Creation Olivier Debré – a cutting edge gallery filled with some of the most exciting contemporary art exhibitions in Tours. Château de Tours also showcases contemporary art and photography, although its history goes back somewhat further. Once the wedding venue of Marie d'Anjou and Charles VII, this is the castle where Joan of Arc was received by the king upon her triumphal return from Orleans.
Enjoying the Outdoors in Tours
Planning a family holiday to Tours and need space for the kids to let off steam? The Botanical Garden of Tours deserves a place at the top of your itinerary. Laid out on a former wetland in between the Loire and Le Cher rivers, it features stunning formal and scientific gardens, an arboretum and greenhouses filled with exotic flora. Perhaps most exciting for little ones, however, is the wildlife park with its petting zoo, free-roaming wallabies and flamingo lake.
Visitors of all ages will love the Tours boat rides offered by the Boutavant Association, on traditional, flat-bottomed vessels perfectly designed for the river's shallow waters. Alternatively, one of the best ways to soak up the city's riverine culture is to walk the edge of the River Loire until you reach the guinguette at Tours-Sur-Loire. This open-air bar restaurant attracts locals and visitors alike for balmy evenings spent sampling local cuisine, making new friends over a bottle of wine or enjoying Tours concerts beneath a canopy of sparkling fairy lights.
If you have time to venture out of the city centre, the tranquil Lake of la Bergeonnerie offers a waterfront hiking, jogging and cycling trail to the south of the La Cher river. And beyond that, the châteaux of the Loire Valley beckon. Two of the region's most spectacular castles, Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau, are less than an hour's drive away.
Specialty Cuisine and Fine Wines
The best restaurants in Tours give visitors the opportunity to discover a wealth of regional delicacies. These range from the coarse, deeply flavourful spread known as Rillettes de Tours (which consists of pork slow-cooked in lard and white wine) to Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine cheese. The latter is made of goat's milk and rolled around a straw, before being gently dusted in charcoal ash. For dessert, try the flattened, dried pears known as poires tapées, or treat yourself to a slice of Nougat de Tours. This mouthwatering cake features sweet pastry filled with apricot jam and cubed candied fruit, then topped with almond meringue.
Of course, the Loire Valley is also world-famous for its wines. Red, white, rosé and sparkling wines from the Touraine AOC are particularly popular in Tours restaurants, with the Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay varietals taking pride of place. Want to peruse the best regional delicacies at your own pace? Head to Les Halles de Tours (the Halls of Tours), a 150-year-old covered market and centre for gastronomy featuring close to 40 different artisans, selling everything from specialty breads and cheeses to wines, fruit, meat and seafood. Picnic anyone?
Best Hotels in Tours, France
Our Tours accommodation ranges from charming hotels in Tours city centre to full-service apartments with kitchens for self-catering on longer trips. Hoping to stay in a hotel north of Tours, with easy access to the airport and the Touraine vineyards? We have several options to choose from. Pick the amenities that suit you – a heated outdoor swimming pool, perhaps, or free indoor parking and accessible rooms. Alternatively, head south of the city centre to one of our hotels in the Chambray-lès-Tours region – perfect for expeditions to the Loire Valley châteaux.
Getting to Tours
Tours is well connected via autoroute to the rest of France – driving from Paris takes just 2.5 hours. You can cut the journey from the capital down to just over an hour by taking the direct TGV service to Gare de Tours, however. The city's central station also acts as the terminus for the Tours–Le Mans and Tours–Saint-Nazaire lines. For ultimate convenience after a long journey by train, Accor offers no fewer than five train station hotels to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets. Finally, nearby Tours Val de Loire Airport connects visitors to London, Marrakesh, Marseille, Dublin and Porto.