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Located in central France, Tours is on the lower portion of the Loire and it has been one of France’s most important cities throughout history. It has always been an important crossing point on the river, which caused the Romans to want the area when they were in the middle of their 1st century AD expansion efforts.
It’s modern name began to evolve in the 4th century as the Romans were losing their influence, but it was still notable for having one of the 5 largest amphitheaters in the entire Empire. The modern city might not have ruins for you to go visit, but it does have a number of stunning buildings that date back to the 12th century along with a number of fascinating experiences to enjoy. Let’s take a look!
The Municipal Botanical Gardens Are Quiet and Peaceful
Established in 1843 by a local pharmacist, this Municipal Botanical Gardens are the oldest public gardens in the city. There are over 2,000 different plants growing here and a number of them are contained with the greenhouses that dot the area. The attached arboretum offers a garden proper and an orchard to enjoy, while an avenue of magnolias takes you to a pool that is filled with lotus and lilies. Admission is free and the gardens are open every day.
For a different kind of peaceful serenity, you may wish to make your way to the Saint Gatien Cathedral. It was built in 1170 to replace another cathedral on the same site that had burned out about 4 years previous when France and England were having a dispute with each other. Most of the cathedral today was finished in the 15th century and has that classic Gothic style that is rich and flamboyant.
The Fine Arts Museum Is Diverse and Stunning
You’ll find the Museum of Fine Arts in Tours located in the former palace of the local bishop. It’s near the Cathedral, so the a stop here afterward a tour of the religious site is only natural. The museum has been housed in this location since 1910 and the collection includes some of the best works from the Italian Primitives and French painting up through the 19th century. There are over 12,000 different works in the permanent collection, but only about 10% are ever on display at any given time.
For one of the most extravagant buildings in Tours, however, you’ll need to make your over to the Hotel Gouin. This mansion was built in the 15th century, while some of the facades of the mansion were updated a century later. Only the main facade was able to survive the second world war, so you will be seeing a restored building, but an extravagant one based on historical concepts nonetheless.
Sightseeing and Tours
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Map and distances
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When you are visiting the city, make use of the local tourist information where you can get free and professional assistance in planning what to see and do during your vacation. At the tourist information you can also get a wide range of brochures and maps of the city and the region for free.
In the following section you can find more local information about the city.
Tours Tourist Information
Office du Tourisme Tours
78-82 Rue Bernard Palissy
T: +33 2 47 70 37 37
www: website link
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