Straddling a spit of land between the rivers Loire and Cher, the ancient cathedral city of Tours is the chief town of the Loire valley. It has the usual feel of a mid-sized provincial city, with some discordant shifts between the strikingly grand and stripped-down modern. Its charms, however, include some good bars and restaurants, an interesting collection of museums – including an above-average Beaux-Arts museum – and many fine buildings, most notably the Cathédrale St-Gatien.

The city’s two distinct old quarters lie on either side of rue Nationale, the busy shopping street that forms the town’s main axis, while the main tourist area lies around picturesque place Plumereau, some 600m to the west. Tours is also the main transport link to the great châteaux of Villandry, Langeais, Azay-le-Rideau and Amboise.

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