A Guide to Three Days in Tours, France

Yes, Tours, France is a real place. When I first googled places to go in France in the fall, and *Tours* kept coming up. I was so confused. I wanted a place to visit, not a bunch of tour options! Eventually I figured it out and whoa I am so glad I did. It opened up my experience of France to include this beautiful mid sized city and a whole new area to explore on future trips to France. 

This area is known for white wines and Chateaux – aka castles. Can you imagine a more magical place? I don’t know, white wine and castles make up the region of my dreams. 

Check out my guide below for how to spend a few days bopping around this area! 

How to get to Tours

France is insanely well connected by rail. If you are flying into Paris and want to go directly to Tours it is very easy to get there. The train from Paris to Tours is less than 2 hours, and is a direct route. There are over a dozen trains leaving for Tours every day from Gare du Nord in Paris so it is very easy to get to from Paris! A one way ticket from Paris to Tours will cost anywhere from about USD $30-50 depending on whether you book on a high speed train or a regular speed train. 

I traveled to Tours from Bordeaux, which was still very easy, but I did have one train transfer. I got on the train in Bordeaux at the Saint-Jean station, rode about an hour or so and then had a quick transfer at Saint-Pierre-Des-Corps, to a local train that brought me to the Tours main station. A one way train ticket from Bordeaux will cost about USD $45-55 – it seems odd that this costs more than the train from Paris, but because Paris is so well connected and there are more trains coming and going from the city, trains to and from Paris tend to be cheaper than those outside the city in my experience. 

How to get around Tours

Walk! Tours is a very walkable city and you would do yourself a disservice by staying anywhere outside of the city limits. 

Bikes are also easy to rent, but walking is the best way to explore the city and get a local feel and orient yourself in the city. 

Where to stay in Tours

If you stay anywhere within the city limits, and within 10 minutes walk to the river you are golden. Truly, you can walk everywhere here. It is flat, easy to navigate, and even if you get lost the streets are the best place to wander around until you find your bearings. 

If you want to be right in the action, stay near the Place Plumereau, which is a square that is full of historic timber framed houses and lively bars and restaurants. 

If you want to stay somewhere quieter, stay on the east side of the city near the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien, which is a gothic style cathedral on the outskirts of the city center but still close enough to the action to be able to walk everywhere without a problem. 

I stayed at the most amazing apartment with incredible views of the Cathedral. It was much bigger than what I needed and there is definitely room for at least four people (although the bathroom is a little small). I would absolutely stay at this airbnb again and in this area of town. It is one of my favorite stays of all time! 

What to do in and around Tours 

Spend a day in the city – Tours is the perfect city to get a little lost in. There are quiet and quaint alleyways galore, coffee shops and cafes on every corner, and lovely places to walk along the Loire river. May I suggest a riverside picnic lunch? 

Make sure to wader over to the Place Plumereau for a meal or a glass of wine in the square. Perfect for people watching and relaxing, this area is always busy but seemingly never chaotic and there are an abundance of tables and chairs outside, no matter the temperature. 

There are a good number of highly rated restaurants in Tours, but make sure to book a reservation ahead of time, especially if you will be here on the weekend. Take advantage of the excellent food at a cheaper price than Paris and go out to dinner at least once or twice! 

In particular, I would recommend checking out: 

  • La Maison Des Halles
  • L’Etable
  • Restaurant Le Bistrot Des Belles Caves

Visit the famous Chateaux in the area – This area is very much known for their abundance of castles or Chateaux. The region is actually nicknamed ‘The Garden of France’ because there are so many vineyards, fruit orchards, and castles with gardens that are pruned to the nines. 

There are over 300 castles in the area so you are absolutely spoiled for choice. It depends on what you want to do or how many castles that you want to see, but there are a few that stand out above the rest: Château de Chenonceau, Chateau de Chambord, Villandry Chateau & Gardens, and Chateau of Domaine de La Tortiniere. 

You can arrange to visit the castles on your own by renting a car or hiring a driver or you can even rent a bike to get to a few of the smaller castles from Tours. If you visit any of the castles on your own, be prepared to pay cash for your entrance ticket. 

You can also join one of the many guided tours that are offered in this area. Many of the tours combine a few castles with a visit to a winery or another point of interest. The only downside of taking a guided tour is that your time at each site is often limited, so if you know you want to take your time then it’s better to do a self-guided tour. 

I visited two of the Chateaux as part of a GetYourGuide tour, and I loved it! I did wish I had more time at one of the Chateaux, but the pros definitely outweighed the cons. Especially as a solo traveler, it was a great way to meet some other travelers and learn more about the region from the guide. This tour also included a wine tasting excursion and lunch at a winery, which was a great way to round out the tour. 

Check out this tour here! 

Winery tour – This region is also well known for wine, especially white wines. To visit any wineries I would recommend taking a tour (mostly so you don’t have to worry about driving!). 

Book a wine tasting tour from Tours here! 

Bike tour – France is a highly bikeable country and this area is no different. Professional cyclists actually train in this area and amateur cyclists also use the many bike paths along the Loire River for some of the best cycling in the country. 

In central Tours, you can rent a bicycle for the day for roughly 20 euros. For a self guided bike tour, grab a baguette and some cheese and head out along the bike path right by the river. The bike rental company can provide you with a map and point out key areas that might be of interest. There are a few wineries that are within biking distance, otherwise just enjoy the scenery, ride past vineyards and through villages, and ride along the beautiful Loire River. 

You can even join an e-bike tour that brings you to Chateau de Chambord! 

Even without any of the excursions, the city of Tours is as charming as they get and if you are looking for something a little bit quieter and a little bit different – this area is a must on your France itinerary. 

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