Thanks to its central location and excellent train connections to the nearby towns, Tours makes an ideal base to explore the Loire Valley and discover the chateaux of Loire.
But not only is it a great base, the town of Tours itself is also beautiful to explore.
And with so many bars and restaurants, it’s a lovely place to return to in the evening for a great meal after a long day of exploring.
The Place Plumereau, surrounded by gorgeous 15th-century half-timbered houses, is located in the heart of the historic centre of Tours. It’s a popular place to sit and watch the world go by!
And off the square are all sorts of wonderful cobbled stone streets with wonderfully quirky shops and cafes to discover.
Tours Cathedral is dedicated to the first bishop of Tours – Saint Gatianus. The gothic style cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547.
The cathedral has some beautiful stained glass windows.
The tombs of Anne de Bretagne and Charles VII’s children are inside the cathedral.
And a chapel dedicated to Joan of Arc, who met with Charles VII in Tours.
Recommended Restaurants In Tours
You are spoilt for choice in Tours, and unlike many French towns, there are plenty of options if you don’t fancy French food. The Lebanese restaurant Restaurant Le Beyrouth was really good.
Here are a few of my favourites:
Easy Day Trips From Tours By Train
The town of Amboise is gorgeous. If you only plan to visit one town in the Loire Valley, go here.
Enjoy the view of Amboise from Île d’Or.
Walking from the train station into Amboise, you will cross the Pont du Maréchal Leclerc Bridge and the L’Île d’Or (Gold Island).
From the bridge and the island, you get really lovely views of the Château Royal d’Amboise and the town.
The island has a few bars and cafes and is a nice neighbourhood to wander around.
Walk around Amboise town.
As with all medieval towns, the best part is just leisurely wandering around. Step away from the main streets and explore the back roads. Enjoy a coffee or something stronger at one of the many street-side cafes.
Tour de l’Horloge (The Clock Tower)
One of the most distinctive buildings in Amboise, apart from the chateaus, is the 15th-century clock tower. It’s a nice photo stop as you explore the town.
It is possible to climb the tower, but the views are better from the Château Royal d’Amboise.
Château Royal d’Amboise
The impressive Château Royal d’Amboise presiding high over the town of Amboise is the town’s number one attraction.
Leonardo Da Vinci is buried here in the Chapel of Saint Hubert. The chapel, however, is currently being renovated.
The château is well worth a visit, as are the beautiful formal gardens.
Allow yourself a couple of hours to explore here.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. Check here for up-to-date information about visiting Château Royal d’Amboise.
Château du Clos Lucé
I highly recommend visiting Château du Clos Lucé; it was really interesting. This château is where Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked for the last three years of his life.
There’s also an exhibition here of Da Vinci’s inventions which was fascinating.
The château and the gardens are beautiful to explore, so do set aside a couple of hours for this one.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. Check here for up-to-date information about visiting Château du Clos Lucé.
If you haven’t had your fill of chateaus yet, there is one more in town – Château Gaillard. This one is just a few minutes’ walk away from Clos Lucé. It was built at the end of the 15th century as a Royal residence for Charles VIII.
I have to confess; I only got as far as the entrance and then thought, I’ve seen enough chateaus today; I’m off for a glass of wine.
However the grounds looked beautiful from the outside, but the castle was hidden, so if you visit, do let me know what I missed out on in the comments.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. Check here for up-to-date information about visiting Château Gaillard.
Loire Valley is famous for its wines. And a great place to sample some local wines is at the Caves Ambacia in Amboise.
Caves Ambacia is about a fifteen-minute walk from the town centre. Do note that this winery is where wine is stored; it does not have a vineyard.
The wine cellars are over 500 years old and were hand carved directly from the cliff face.
You can do a self-guided visit for free or for €18 per person enjoy a tour and wine tasting. The wine-tasting tour is 75 minutes.
Recommended Restaurant In Amboise
Recommended lunch spot in Amboise – Le Parvis.
Love Amboise And Want To Stay Longer?
I have to admit I think I preferred Amboise to Tours, so why did I continue to stay in Tours? Because I was house-sitting in Tours and was looking after a gorgeously cute cat.
How To Get To Amboise By Train From Tours
The train from Tours to Amboise takes around 15-20 minutes and can be bought in advance through SNCF.
From the train station, it’s a twenty-minute walk into Amboise. It’s well signposted, just head towards the Loire River. Once you’ve crossed the river, you’re there.
Blois is another picturesque small city with medieval cobblestone streets, a magnificent castle, half-timbered burghers’ houses, and an impressive Gothic cathedral!
The Tourist Office close to the chateau is very helpful and will provide maps (I love paper maps) and give suggestions on what to see and do in the city.
Walking around the Old Town
Even though it was raining, which meant an awful lot of coffee stops when I was there, Blois, with its many picturesque cobbled stone alleys and narrow streets, is a delight to explore.
Château Royal de Blois
The Château Royal de Blois was built between the 13th and 17th centuries. The chateau was once home to the powerful Counts of Blois before becoming a royal residence during the reign of Louis XII in the 15th century. During the following centuries, seven kings and ten queens of France lived here, each adding their own style to the architecture of the building.
Allow around an hour and a half to explore the château.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. Check here for up-to-date information about visiting Château Royal de Blois.
House of Magic (Maison de la Magie)
Opposite the Château Royal is the Maison de la Magie, a unique museum devoted entirely to magic.
Much of the exhibition is dedicated to Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, a famous French magician born in Blois. Harry Houdini based his stage name on this magician.
Escalier Denis Papin
The best way to reach the Cathedral of Saint-Louis is via the stairway of Denis Papin.
Since the 19th century, this iconic stairway has connected the upper and lower part of the town. At its top is a statue of Denis Papin, a famous inventor from Blois.
Every year since 2013, the 120 steps of the staircase have been decorated in giant artwork, the theme depending on what’s happening in town, although have no idea what this painting is about!
Cathedral of Saint-Louis
Built in 1697, the late Gothic-style Cathedral of Saint-Louis (Cathédrale Saint-Louis) is the seat of the bishop of Blois. Built over a 10th-century church dedicated to Saint Solenne, it’s still possible to see the remains of the older church in the crypt.
Recommended Restaurant In Blois
Recommended lunch spot in Blois – Le Petit Honfleur
Love Blois And Decided To Stay Longer?
How To Get To Blois By Train From Tours
Trains from Tours take around 45 minutes to Blois-Chambord Station. Then it’s a ten-minute walk into town. Train tickets can be booked in advance through SNCF.
From April through to November, a shuttle bus runs from the station to Chateau Chambord, one of the most famous chateaus in the Loire Valley.
I was in Blois on a rainy December day, so I didn’t make it there on this occasion.
Chateau de Chenonceau
The Chateau de Chenonceau is just stunning. If you only see one château during your time in the Loire Valley, make it this one.
Also known as ‘the ladies’ chateau’ as throughout its history, it has been the ladies who have most influenced its design.
It’s the second most-visited castle in France after Versailles. So, do get there early to avoid the crowds.
The setting across the river is just so picturesque. So give yourself plenty of time to take photos.
To avoid the queues at the entrance, I highly recommend buying your ticket in advance.
Apart from the chateau and the gardens, there is not that much else to see in the immediate vicinity. The village of Chenonceaux is just on the other side of the train track, but there seems only to be a few fancy restaurants and the tourist office there.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. Check here for up-to-date information about visiting Château de Chenonceau.
Recommended Restaurant In Chenonceaux
Recommended lunch spot in Blois – Auberge du Bon Laboureur, a fancy Michelin-star restaurant.
It looked terrific but, sadly, way over my budget. Instead, I opted for a simple Croque monsieur from the local bakery. But if I had a tad more money, I would have gone.
Chenonceau or Chenonceaux ?
The chateau is Chenonceau, and the village is Chenonceaux.
Love Chenonceaux and decided to stay longer?
How To Get To Chateau de Chenonceau By Train From Tours
The train from Tours to Chenonceaux takes around 30 minutes. On arrival, you will need to cross the train track, and the chateau is just a short walk away.
Train tickets can be booked in advance through SNCF.
How To Get To Loire Valley From Paris By Train
The best way to get to the Loire Valley by train is to take the TGV from Paris Montparnasse to St Pierre des Corps. The journey time takes around one hour.
From St Pierre des Corps to Tours, regular trains take just five minutes to get to Tours. Or take a local bus from just outside the station.
If you don’t have much luggage, it’s a pleasant 25-minute stroll into Tours.
Train tickets from Paris to Tours can be booked in advance through SNCF.
Easy As ABC
So as you see, exploring Amboise, Boise and Chenonceau as day trips from Tours by train is easy.
Short On Time? It’s Possible To Visit The Loire Valley As A Day Trip From Paris.
If time is short, it’s possible to visit the chateaus of the Loire Valley as a day trip from Paris.
Check out these highly-rated tours.
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