France – Jour 14 – Part 1 – Tours

A Tour of Tours

The day dawned clear and sunny for our day in Tours – we ate breakfast with our fellow guests at the B&B and quickly scampered out for our one day of sightseeing.  We wondered how much we could fit in – but as this post testifies – quite a lot actually.  Warning – this post is picture heavy!!

Tours is an amazing town – little enough to traverse from one side to another in half an hour or so, but it contains an amazing diversity of history, architecture and scenic landscapes.  We wanted to check out St Gatien Cathedral which is just up our street, but we were waylaid by the Musee des Beaux Arts. 

The funny thing is… we didn’t actually go inside the museum… we were just mesmerised by the garden…

First we saw this amazing 200 year old cypress tree – that needs support to hold up its branches.

Then we saw this amazing garden… but there was so much more….

Do you think this statue has a reputation for a lucky bottom…?

I love this drowsy cat, which was sitting in the doorway of the Musee…

Our next stop was the St Gatien Cathedral – which was just amazing.  For a small town, Tours has a stunning cathedral with a huge edifice and sensational stained glass windows…

The stained glass windows were amazing… and there were lots of them…

Chapel with Jeanne D’Arc statue

A more traditional stained glass window… and a more abstract one…

 

 

Rose coloured light flooded into the cathedral…

… and even stained the floor pink…

While some windows had hardly any colour at all… 

A very impressive organ…

We also decided to visit the cloister – which cost a little extra, but was well worth it.

Look how worn these stairs are… the passage of time and many feet…

Andrew being coy….

More flying buttresses…

We then went for a walk along the Loire and crossed the Pont de Saint Symphorien – a suspension bridge built across the river. 

We stopped for a quick café, and then walked back across to continue along the river…

The American Monument – set up by the USA to honour the supply arm of the defence forces during the war.

I finally begged that we go have some lunch, but thought that Place Plumereu would be the best option – I knew from reputation it would have a lot of restaurants!  I was so right…  it’s a very touristy scene (excuse the pun), and given Tours is a university town, there were lots of young people about!

Can you believe these old houses – look how much they lean forwards and backwards…

We decided to eat down one of the little side streets at this lovely little creperie – I was in the mood for crepes! 

I decided to have the formulé – which included a savoury galette, a green salad and a sweet crepe!  Fantastique!  I chose the vegetarian galette which included 3 different toppings including poireux (leek), champignons (mushrooms), and oignons (soft cooked onions).  It was delicious – simple and not too heavy.

Andrew decided he would go for un galette complet – in other words with ham, cheese and egg.  You can’t go wrong with a breakfast crepe!

My sweet crepe then came out – I had chosen the orange crepe so it was an über thin crepe gently smeared with a sweet orange marmalade!  It was so good!! Ooh la la!

We then continued our walk around the old city – it included coming across the ruins of this 12th century church – as well as tombs from even older than that!  It’s just staggering the history in this place.

Some of the old church had been reclaimed… in this case by one of many Irish pubs that we saw around this area.  Again, testimony to the fact Tours is a university town no doubt – we saw about 15 Irish pubs!

Then there was the remains of the Basilica of Saint Martin – the two towers (it was like something out of Lord of the Rings!!).  At one end of the street, there was the Tour de l’Horloge (the clock tower), and at the other, the Tour Charlemagne.  The Basilica was originally built in 471!! But after a series of fires, attacks by the Huguenots, and finally the revolution – the basilica was so ruined that in 1802, they decided to demolish it and build a market place instead!! You can see in the picture on the right, that the tower has been built right up to – amazing!

And this sums up Tours pretty well – you have a continual juxtaposition of eras and times built one on top of the other… all melding in together so one minute you’re looking at an 8th century tomb, and the next an Irish pub!

A gorgeous city… as you can see – but doable within a day or two if you’re not too ambitious! We were happy with what we had seen… and meandered back to our B&B for a little rest before checking out the further gourmet delights the city had to offer….

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