On the morning of June 24th, we said goodbye to Blois and after a short 30km bike ride we arrived in Tours, our next target. I have to admit that I didn’t plan much in Tours. We wanted a castle tour and the chateau in Tours (pictured below) is a small, unassuming building that doesn’t measure up to the reputation of the Loire Valley’s artful palace’s. However, Tours has something to offer visitors, but first, let me tell you about the wonderful hotel we stayed in.
Hotel Colbert is a modern, trendy family-run boutique hotel in the heart of the pedestrian restaurant row. The host was very nice and spoke English, so communication was easy. At first, we were nervous about street noise at night but it wasn’t a problem at all; we had a courtyard facing room. The lobby and room were colorfully painted, our room was a dark purple. The bathroom was very modern and inviting. We have been thrilled with all the hotels we have stayed in, and this one was no different. The modern style was a pleasant change from the old-world style of the previous hotels. They even had an attractive courtyard, but unfortunately, it was only open for breakfast. Let me jump ahead and say breakfast in the courtyard was nice. The host served the traditional French breakfast personally, a much more pleasant experience than the buffet breakfast you find in larger hotels.
And now, on to Tours
Tours has an interesting historical town center. The two biggest attractions are the churches. The Cathedral St. Gaiten and the Basilica of St. Martin (pictured above). St. Martin was a solder-turned-priest who, after his military exploits, eventually made his way to Tours where he was named Bishop. A church was built on his grave sometime around 400AD; then a bigger church was built, then an early basilica. The basilica of today was built in the 1880s. The tower at the end of the street in the photo is called Tour Charlemagne. It was built in the 11th century as part of the original basilica. Below is a photo of the interior of the basilica.
Cathedral St. Gaiten
The cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547. It is an impressive, ornate building with interesting flying buttresses supporting the exterior walls. The French really go all out on their cathedrals…and their chateaux!
For dinner, we went to a French restaurant called Le Zinc. It is in a part of town called Place Plumereau, a vibrant quarter in old Tours that seems to be the center of nightlife. Lots of restaurants, bars, and a statue of a monster. We had high hopes in this restaurant, but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the recommendation. The food was good, but the service was disappointing. Oh well, it was an enjoyable ride through town.