France: Loire Valley

East of Tours

Vouvray, Montlouis and Touraine wines
By Jim Budd

This Guide was last updated on 21 April 2011
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Main towns and villages


The capital of Touraine and the largest conurbation in the Loire Valley, Tours is an important crossroads between routes running from Paris and Rouen in the north and those running up the Loire and Cher Valleys. Badly damaged during the Second World War, there is still much worth visiting especially Vieux Tours, the cathedral and the Musée des Beaux Arts. Because of the number of one way streets driving in Tours can be difficult and frustrating for visitors not familiar with the city, also it is often not easy to find a space to park. It is often better to catch a train into Tours. Furthermore Tours station, built between 1896 and 1898, is magnificent and certainly worth visiting. Dating from the same period (1902) is the famous brasserie, La Chope (tel: 02 47 20 15 15 – www.lachope) on the Avenue de Grammont with its mirrored interior. Excellent fish, especially plateaux de fruits de mer, and an ideal place to unwind after sightseeing.


On the south bank of the Loire Amboise was one of the seats of the French government during the Renaissance. François I invited Leonardo da Vinci to pass the last years of his life at the Clos Luce, a delightful small manor house close to the royal château of Amboise that overlooks the Loire. Wander through the narrow streets of the old centre underneath the château. Make sure you visit Bigot ( in the Place Michel Debré. This salon de thé, patisserie and chocolatier is an Amboise institution. There is a big market by the river on Fridays and Sundays.


Loches is a very popular and attractive small town on the Indre. The centrepiece is the medieval centre with the château and infamous dungeon where prisoners were incarcerated in terrible conditions often for years. There is a good market in the centre on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. While you are there it is worth popping into Loches’ two wine shops: Les Flaveurs de la Terre at 7 Rue Balzac and Les Saveurs du Palais at 4 Rue Saint Antoine. The latter is also a delicatessen selling fine foods including a range of teas and chocolate.

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