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Overview

Tours has plenty to offer, but it is best appreciated as a springboard for some of the Loire Valley’s most extravagant chateaus. Just a hop, skip and a jump (well, about 15 miles) to the southwest is the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, a turreted 16th-century confection that is considered the Loire Valley’s most beautiful. And even closer in the same direction is the 18th-century Château de Villandry, among the last of the valley’s Renaissance castles to be built and surrounded by some of the finest landscaped gardens in France. And a mere six miles to the east are the Chenin Blanc vineyards of Vouvray, where you can taste and buy wine from the ...

Tours has plenty to offer, but it is best appreciated as a springboard for some of the Loire Valley’s most extravagant chateaus. Just a hop, skip and a jump (well, about 15 miles) to the southwest is the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, a turreted 16th-century confection that is considered the Loire Valley’s most beautiful. And even closer in the same direction is the 18th-century Château de Villandry, among the last of the valley’s Renaissance castles to be built and surrounded by some of the finest landscaped gardens in France. And a mere six miles to the east are the Chenin Blanc vineyards of Vouvray, where you can taste and buy wine from the central local producers cellar. But if you are staying close to Tours, the capital of the Touraine, considered the "garden of France," don’t miss the Musée des Beaux-Arts, with works by Degas, Monet and Rubens, and the unusual Musée de Compagnonnage, devoted to the skilled craftsmen of France; it’s a field day for anyone into DIY! Another worthwhile destination is the Jardin Botanique, a large landscaped park just outside town that includes a petting zoo for kids.

Steve Fallon
About the Expert

Steve Fallon has more than two dozen years of experience as a travel writer and guidebook author, having written or contributed to some 80 Lonely Planet and other guides.

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Steve Fallon for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June and July are excellent times to visit — away from the crowds of August — as are September and October during the grape harvest.