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Tours (the ‘s’ is silent) lies at the heart of Loire Châteaux Country, a legacy of the centuries when it was the capital of France and the French royal court was based in the Loire Valley. The châteaux of Chenonceau, Blois, Amboise, Cheverny, Azay, Villandry and Chaumont are all within an hour’s drive. Quality, elegance and class are the region’s hallmarks and famous vineyards surround the city. Even the streets look stylish in neat lines of white stone and black slate. South of the Cher and north of the Loire extend the newer business districts. The main attraction though is the historic center between the rivers. In medieval times, Rue Colbert was the main street. Mainly pedestrianized, it remains a domain of little shops and cafés, as well as the museums and Gothic cathedral, beautifully lit up at night. Today the main street is busy Rue Nationale, with department stores and dozens of interesting smaller shops. As always in a place like Tours, look for style, not just bargains.
Tours, an ideal destination for lovers of historical and natural heritage, is known to many as the "City of art and history". The city offers historical sites like the Old Town, Cathedral St Gatien and amazing art by Rembrandt and Rubens which you can find in the Musée des Beaux Arts. After the obligatory cultural program, take a romantic walk along the river Loire or head to a wine-tasting, where you will be introduced to superb local wines.
Tours enjoys fine dining and good wines at moderate prices. Tourte Tourangelle (pork-filled pastry), potted pork meats called rillettes, as well as rillette de pigeon and rillette de canard are the main specialities, plus fresh fish from the Loire and local goats’ cheeses. The best local wines come from nearby Vouvray and Montlouis.
Bars, cafés, and brasseries (bars which serve meals) overlap with no clear distinction. All of them offer the chance to relax, enjoy a drink and a bite to eat, and watch the world go by during the day and often far into the evening too. Most bars in Vieux Tours stay open till 2 am or later.
With 30,000 students living in Tours, there are dozens of late-night bars, dance clubs and discos. Centre of the action is place Plumereau. In addition there are cabaret shows and other after-dark entertainment plus concerts, classical dance and theatre.
The main shopping street in central Tours is rue Nationale, with the department store Galeries Lafayette and dozens of interesting smaller fashion stores. For local food specialities both sweet and savoury, there is a comprehensive selection at Les Douceurs Tourangelles, 104 rue du Commerce, and at Le Livre Tournois, 6 rue Nationale. There are several markets in Tours. The main one is at Les Halles, among others are the evening market in place de la Résistance on the first Friday of every month, the twice-weekly flower market on blvd Béranger and the antiquarian bookstalls on blvd Heurteloup every Saturday.
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