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Hub of the Loire, Tours is a lot more than just a gateway to the châteaux and wine of the region. This ancient Roman city fizzes over with life: there's the markets, arts and crafts, fashion and of course cuisine to be sampled. If this introduction makes Tours sound like a jack of all trades and master of none, then you're mistaken, Tours is quite masterful at several, but it does offer something for everyone when it comes to choosing the best places to stay in Tours.
Tours is more than just a gateway to the Loire châteaux, but many of the region's 59 châteaux are easily visited from Tours. Including some of the most famous, the Château de Chenonceau, Château d'Amboise and Chambord. And some of the most beautiful: Château d'Usse, Villandry and Château d'Azay-le-Rideau.
On the wine front you're in the heart of the Touraine region, known for its crisp, dry whites, which go extremely well with the rich foods. There's no better place to sample some of the region's bounty than Las Halles the covered food market - make sure you try some local goat's cheese, and maybe some rabbit?
If you're interested in developing knowledge as well as a nose for the wines of Touraine, start your odyssey at the Touraine Wine Museum. As well as wine tastings they have information on the history of wine making in the region, and the 69 different Unesco-protected vineyards. And famous sample sales.
The town itself is easy to get around on foot, with many of the prettiest bits of the city within walking distance of the heart of old Tours. As well as the Cathedral of Saint-Gatien, the Priory of Saint-Cosme and the ruins of the Basilica of St. Martins, people with an interest in history or religion may also want to visit the spot where Joan of Arc's armour was made.
Art lovers should visit the Museum of Fine Arts, which has a fine collection of works, including paintings by Rubens, Degas, Delacroix and Rembrandt. And Tour's Clos Luce is a fascinating museum dedicated to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.
Tours is also known for its shopping. Both new and second-hand clothes, antiques and original art. The Rue Nationale is a good place to start, especially if you're on the look out for hard to find French fashion labels, but this is also where you'll find the galleries.
Cycling is a popular way to get in and out of Tours, and there are numerous bike rental services. And many of the Loire's great châteaux are within a cycle ride of the best places to stay in Tours on the Loire a velo.
For the Châteaux
- Château de Beaulieu has direct access to the Loire a velo, the Loire's main cycling route, AND a wonderful spa in its grand grounds. Château de Beaulieu also has an excellent cellar, with over 350 vintages to choose from.
- The Château de L'Aubriere is a stunning château turned hotel run by a Count and Countess. Rooms and suites are huge and opulently decorated.
For the wine
- Stay right amongst the vines at Domaine des Bidaudieres, just out of the famous wine village of Vouvray. This beautiful 15th Century estate has B&B style accommodation in extensive grounds, with five rooms, two suites and two villas - one self catering.
On a budget
- In the heart of the medieval town and close to all the sights, Hotel l'Adresse has generous sized, wood-beamed rooms starting from £59 a night - perfect if you're on a budget but want something stylish.
Tours' Best B&Bs
- If you're looking for value chic, one of the best places to stay in Tours is the Hotel Mirabeau. It's a B&B with a lovely terrace and relaxed atmosphere. Rooms sleep between two and five, so this is also a great choice for families.
- Right opposite the theatre, the Hotel du Theatre is perfect for a simple and contemporary crash pad in the centre of Tours.
Best Hotels in Tours
Hotel Mirabeau 23 rooms from $70Tours (Loire)
Excellently positioned townhouse B&B in downtown Tours. Varying rooms sleep from two up to five. Ideal for groups and families, and great value.Value chicSights nearby - Located in the centre of Tours. Perfect base for exploring the Loire ValleyLocal markets - Good for local colour.
Hotel du Theatre 14 rooms from $73Tours, Loire Valley
A townhouse B&B in a great location opposite the theatre in the centre of Tours. Simple and contemporary bedrooms are functional rather than aesthetic. Good value for a clean and simple city spot.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.Local markets - Good for local colour.
Hostellerie de la mere Hamard 11 rooms from $84Semblançay, Loire Valley
Excellent restaurant with rooms in a picturesque village. Contemporary and comfortable rooms and family rooms, lovely garden courtyard and terrace, and a relaxed ambience. A great spot for families, groups and local explorers.Sights nearby - Great base for exploring the sights of the Loire ValleyLocal markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Sawdays
Le Prieuré 3 rooms from $94Dissay sous Courcillon, Loire Valley
In a delightful village in the Loire valley, this 12th century former monastery has been in the same family for many years. Three spacious rooms, each with a garden view, are full of character with exposed beams and antique furnishings. A perfect retreat for families; peaceful and lots to do!Intimate - Only three rooms. Why not book all three with family and friends and have the place to yourselves?Sights nearby - The old city of Tours, the castles of the Loire valleyGreat walks - Explore the Bercé forestSwimming Pool - Outdoor pool.
Chateau de Beaulieu 17 rooms from $101Tours
Elegant rural chateau with an excellent spa and gourmet restaurant. Beautiful gardens and terraces and stately salons. A country escape ideal for weddings, foodies, and families.Sights nearby - 10 mins from Tours city centre and easy access to all the Loire chateauxLocal markets - Good for local colour.SpaGreat walks - Good for walkers.
Chateau de La Bourdaisiere 29 rooms from $132Montlouis sur Loire, Loire Valley
A picturesque fifteenth-century castle, surrounded by landscaped gardens and parklands in the lovely Loire Valley. Rooms exude old world charm, with exposed wooden beams, checkered floors and smatterings of family antiques. A chic and charming hotel in an unbeatable location.Total relaxation - A great spot for unwinding in style, from the heated pool with views, to the tennis courts and well maintained gardens.Value chic - Great value for money considering the historic setting, elegant interiors, fantastic location and spoiling amenities.Great walks - Surrounded by 15 kms of forest, with plenty of well marked trails for nature lovers.Swimming Pool - An outdoor pool is available for guests
Art Hotel from $133Rochecorbon, Loire Valley
An art and design hotel with fantastic spa and art exhibitions. Rooms and suites in black and white with almost neon lighting. Excellent for receptions, meetings, and weddings. All very modern!Four poster beds - For romantics.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.SpaSights nearby - Well located for major sights.
Domaine des Bidaudieres 5 rooms from $141Vouvray, Loire Valley
Stunning sand-stone country estate cum luxury B&B with vineyards. Rooms, suites, apartments and two cottages cater to families, groups and weddings. All decorated in elegant style with valley views. Fabulous swimming pool, terraces, and gardens.GroupsFamiliesSwimming Pool - Large outdoor poolLocal markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Sawdays
Chateau de L'Aubriere 9 rooms from $146Tours, Loire Valley
Stunning chateau turned hotel, run by a Count and Countess. Huge bedrooms and suites with four poster beds and opulent decoration. Rooms, suites, and family suites to suit families, groups of friends, or perhaps a wedding party. Excellent food by arrangement.Swimming Pool - Lovely Outdoor PoolFour poster beds - For romantics.Local markets - Good for local colour.Full of characterRecommended by - Sawdays
Les Hautes Roches 14 rooms from $235Tours
Perched on a cliff and overlooking the Loire, this hotel is entirely unique. Carved into the rock, bedrooms are exciting and elegantly decorated with complementing fabrics and fittings. There is a fine restaurant with views of the river. Fresh seafood and local produce. A treasure on the Loire.Foodies - The restaurant has a Michelin star and specialises in seafood.Sights nearby - Exlore the many historic chateaux of the LoireQuirky - Some rooms have been hewn from the cavesRomantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - Relais & Chateaux, Fodors