Tours (with a silent s) is an important French city (population 140,000, 360,000 with the suburbs) located on the river Loire in the Centre-Val de Loire region. Touraine, the region around Tours, is renowned for its wines and for the perfection of its local spoken French.
Although much of the city is modern, Tours boasts half-timbered buildings in Place Plumereau, a 12th century cathedral, and Roman ruins scattered throughout the city, including in the Jardin de St Pierre le Puellier.
TGV from Paris is the fastest way to get to Tours from the capital and costs about €40 each way. It takes just over 1 hr to get to Paris Montparnasse, and about 2 hr to get to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on a direct train.
You could also take the normal SNCF train which passes Orleans and Blois too, it takes about 2 hr depending on which train you take.
St Pierre des Corps Located on the eastern edge of Tours, this is a hub in the French railway network. The station, is an en route terminus for the LGV Atlantique and used by High speed trains traveling from Paris to Nantes, Bordeaux and Toulouse. It is a terminus station for many services.
Tours is situated at the centre of a highway crossroads: the A10 to Paris or Bordeaux, the A85 towards Nantes and Bourges, and the A28 towards Le Mans and the rest of Normandy. the A10 passes between Tours and St Pierre des Corps, from where you can turn off to get to the city centre.
The bus network in Tours is one of the best in France and many people think that Tours needs no subway or tram because of the very good bus service. You can buy a rechargeable bus/tram ticket for €1.60 from a bus driver (including the first journey), which can be recharged at major bus/tram stops for €1.50 per trip or €13 for ten trips. These machines take card and change, but not notes. Simply tap the card on a reader to pay for a journey once on the bus.
Cycling is one of the best ways to see the city; Tours lies at the heart of the Loire à Velo project which has made the entire Loire Valley cyclable, and there are numerous bike rental stores.
Tours is a small place and walking is often the easiest and more pleasant way to get around.
There are numerous underground car parks in the city, such as at Place de la Gare (underneath the large square outside the train station), Place des Halles (underneath the Halles market, ideal for visiting the old town), and at Place Anatole-France (easy access to the shops on Rue Nationale).
If you wish to see the chateaux, refer to the "Get Out" section below for hints from a trip in July 2015.
The Université Francois-Rabelais offers French courses for people of any level and from any country starting at the beginning of September and ending in May, costing between €1,000-€1,500. Classes are held at the Fromont campus west of the city centre in a quiet residential neighbourhood.
There are 3 major places where you can do shopping in Tours.
Most people who work in the shops are young so there is a large possibility that they will speak English. Never start speaking English with someone before asking politely : "Parlez-vous anglais?" (pronouncation : par-lay voo on-glay)
Place Plumereau There are lots of places to drink in the old town around lace Plumereau. Many people go to the square at night and people just sit on chairs placed there, sometimes maybe not even knowing whose chairs they are.
The Pale, 18 Place Foire le Roi, is an Irish pub popular with Erasmus and American exchange students, a great place to go if you are feeling lost and don't speak any French as the clientele is about 75% Anglophone and all the staff are Irish.
Le Café Chaud, 33 Rue Briconnet, is a nightclub aimed at 18-30s, cool bar area on ground level and downstairs club area with cheesy music, a dancefloor and another bar. Try a cocktail, they are very large and reasonably priced, the 'Malmaison' is popular. Open every night.
Le G.I, 13 Rue Lavoisier is Tours' main gay club. Mostly gay men (with female friends) and lesbians, although anybody is admitted on the weekends. Expect to pay about €10-15 entry, but that price includes a drink ticket that can be redeemed at the bar. You need to ring the doorbell to get in, a safety procedure, but don't be put off by this as the door staff are welcoming. Almost nobody arrives before 1am.
ZooStation - huge out of town club on the north end of Tours, free parking with a car, however to avoid getting lost on the way it is advisable to jump into a taxi and say "Zoostation s'il vous plait", the driver will know where you mean and will cost about €10 each way. Drinks are pricy but the entrance fee is low, the music is mostly American and French R&B. Best enjoyed if there is a group of you as Saturday nights are busy and, like any large club, there may be some people who are out to pick a fight.
L'Excalibur, 35 Rue Briconnet, just next to Le Café Chaud is very small but is the place to be for the "uber-cool" crowd.
AJ du Vieux Tours 5, Rue Bretonneau, is a cheap, safe and clean hostel with no curfew. Individual, long-stay rooms are ideal for international students in Tours as the staff speak English and is a great way to make friends quickly. Has communal bathroom facilities and meals are available to buy in the cafeteria area. Also has cooking facilities for making your own meals. Great location next to a couple of internet cafés and all the bars and pubs of Place Plumereau, and just across the road from the main campus of the Université Francois-Rabelais.
le buisson, 7, rue Madeleine Vernet (37270 Monltouis sur Loire), ☎ 0247509818, . Outside along the loire river between Tours and Amboise a nice Bed and breakfast in a old stoned property , nice ensuite bedrooms overlooking the loire.The host a native of the area speak a good english very helpfull for advices and suggestions.edit
Tours is a very safe city in comparison to other French cities. But if you don't speak French, you might get intimidated by homeless people asking you something in French, most likely asking for spare change or a cigarette if they see you smoking.
The quartiers to the south east of the city are best avoided at night, and there are many high-rise low-rent apartment buildings, but any area in Tours is safe during the daytime.
This section is based on a visit in July 2015. Information may be out of date - please check before you travel. The following are relevant official public transport websites: Fil Bleu (Tours city bus and tram) / Fil Vert (Touraine countryside bus) / SNCF (French railways)
It is possible to visit some of the famous chateaux in Touraine using only public transport, leaving from central Tours. The services are not always frequent, but if you're willing to get up relatively early and plan your day well, it can be much cheaper than booking with a travel company (there are many offers for these services in Tours) and will give you more than their standard 1-2 hours at each place!
Villandry - accessible by Fil Bleu bus 117 leaving Gare Vinci at 8:39 and 1:40, returning at 12:47 and 6:02, daily. The bus drops you off directly beside the chateau. Roughly 2,80€ return.
Blois / Chambord / Bracieux / Cheverny / Beauregard - Take the train to Blois (if aged 12-25, you can use "Decouverte 12-25" in the Blue Period for a large discount), then get the shuttle "Navette 41" which leaves Blois station (from just across the car park where there are several noticeboards of available shuttles) at 9:30 and 11:30 on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. This takes a circular route round these five chateaux. You may hop on and hop off for a fixed fee of 6€. Note that the train on Wednesday from Tours arriving at 9:24 and 11:24 does not actually start from Tours: you must take a shuttle train first to St-Pierre-des-Corps. Once back at Blois train station, the roughly hourly trains back to Tours are poorly timed aside from the 19:22 on weekends, but they will sometimes wait for you - otherwise you can face an awkward 59 minute wait. (If you're time-pressured: there is a maximum 10€ + ticket price charge for riding a train without a ticket if you make yourself known to the conductor, or if you want to buy a ticket, the blue ticket machines are faster than the yellow ones!)
Amboise / Chenonceaux - these chateaux are close to their respective train stations, so each is possible separately by train from Tours. However, there is also a bus connecting them. Arriving first at Chenonceaux by train, take the Fils Vert line C from outside Chenonceau Tourist Office at 12:28 to Amboise Theatre for a flat fee of 2,40€ each. This same bus then proceeds to Tours as a cheaper alternative to the train from Amboise. The same trip is possible in the other direction, but with different times.