Best known as the Garden of France, Tours, France shares real estate with the Loire River Valley, small, rolling hills, and incredible gardens. At times, the city has even been said to rival Paris in atmosphere and charm. Indeed, its many shops, metropolitan centers, and great monuments, museums, and attractions definitely give its bigger rival on the Seine a run for its money. In Tours, you’ll have a hard time running out of things to do—its prime location gives you a great starting point from which to explore the entire Loire Valley. If you happen to find yourself in the lucky position of having 48 hours to spend in Tours, France, this jam-packed itinerary will maximize your time.
Spend your first day in the metropolis of Tours, France sightseeing historical and artistic attractions and monuments.
Morning: Stroll around St-Gatien’s Church
One of the oldest cathedrals in the city is Saint-Gatien’s Church. The church boasts incredible gothic architecture, as well as stained glass, high beam ceilings, and gargoyles to match. Once inside though, the church carefully guards a secret gem: the Cloître de Psalettes. A wonder to behold, the cathedral’s bishops worked and planned inside this architectural wonder during the construction of the church itself. For more royal and saintly sites, check out a tour of Loire Valley Castles.
Lunchtime: Grab a burger the Tours way
When you ask locals where they’d go to get a great lunch in Tours, it’s almost unanimous: they would go for a burger. Many incredible burger cafés feature hard rock tunes and burgers that are to die for. And though this may seem all too American in nature—never fear—the burgers have great local spins, such as the French goat cheese burger, which will dribble the regionally-famous melted cheese onto your burger greased hands.
Afternoon: Head to the Fine Arts Museum in the Loire River Valley
The Fine Arts Museum in Tours will have your head literally spinning to get a better look at renaissance masterpiece after masterpiece. The building itself features outstanding architecture, and walking through the museum feels much more like walking through a private collection in someone’s mansion estate than walking through a true art museum. As an added plus, the museum itself may be more famous for its garden than its artworks, as even the giant, overpowering tree at its front entrance was said to have been planted by Napoleon Bonaparte. Art collides inside and outside at this beautiful palace.
Evening: Bar hop in Place Pomerleau
Place Pomerleau, or “Old Town” of Tours, France is the social hotspot of the city. With outstandingly preserved timber-framed houses looming over this charming square, the place oozes with pubs and bars. The restaurants here love open-air seating and a bar crawl here will feature not only the incredible ciders and wines of the region, but also an outstanding selection of Irish beers as well.
Take in the natural beauty of the Loire Valley and the Botanical Garden.
Morning: Explore the Botanical Garden in Tours, France
No ordinary garden, the Botanical Garden of Tours, France, or Jardin botanique de Tours, houses an outstanding array of both flora and fauna, as the garden is half zoo, and half garden, and all for free. Though this may seem too good to be true—trust us, the garden features both and skips no corners on either. See wallabies and ostriches, interact with the animals in the full petting zoo in the other half of the green space, and take a stroll in the full garden-walk and greenhouse. A beautiful site, you’ll feel like spending the whole day in this little-known secret of Tours. Fly over the Botanical Garden on a helicopter tour for an even greater thrill.
Lunchtime: Grab some of the best foods Tours has to offer at Halles de Tours
A full-blown marketplace, the Halles de Tours, features vendors and shops of all kinds. Everything from artisanal breads, incredible wines, and fresh fruit can be found in the halls of the marketplace. Build yourself an amazing picnic for lunch, all-the-while getting some of the best foods the region has to offer at pretty good prices to snack on later. You’ll leave wishing you had more arms to carry things out with!
Afternoon: Go on a wine tasting tour of the local wineries in the Loire River Valley
The Loire River Valley practically spits out spectacular Chinon grapes, and as a result, even better wines. From Tours, you can take a transportation-included wine tasting tour of the region that will make your mouth water. On the half-day trip, you can visit two vineyards that feature very different processes of wine production and sample everything from the Champagne-like sparkling wine of the region to their aptly named Nectar dessert wines. Book this Loire River Valley tour on PlacePass!
Evening: Spend your last night walking along the Loire
Featuring bars, restaurants, and small park pathways, find a place to grab a bite to eat and take the scenic views along the Loire river for your last evening in Tours, France. One potential choice for your riverside stroll is Guinguette de Tours sur Loire. A bar and restaurant right along the river, the historic Guinguette, is situated right next to the Promenade en Bateau overlooking the Pont Wilson bridge. Take a moment to enjoy the sunsetting as you enjoy your last moments enjoying the character and life of Tours, France.