Tours’ history is its culture and its culture its historyArchitecturally impressive and artistically prominent, this Loire city has contained a trove of tourist attractions (note the lowercase “t”) since the era of the French Renaissance.

The Cathedral of St. Gatien , an architectural gem that took about four hundred years to build, is perhaps the oldest beauty du Tours.  Visible from anywhere in town, the ornamentation in its doors and spires are gothic and abundant, though never excessive.  The interior’s imposing volume and stained glass windows inspire the divine just as much as do its glorious, steep, medieval façade and its detailed doorways.  If you are into cathedral architecture, St. Gatien is every bit as much a must visit as Notre Dame or Chartres.

Not far from St. Gatien is the Musee des Beaux Arts , which boasts a couple Rembrant’s and a famous Mantegna, though the collections here sport mostly lesser-known masters, and the regal walls which house them, decorated in a regal and Classical style, are almost as artistically acclaimed as the oilworks they protect.

The ancient Chateau of Tours is interesting on the outside, though the two remaining towers provide little in the way of fascinating exhibition once indoors.

The Musee du Gemmail
contains some interesting modern art design work that was much beloved of Picasso, and the rue Nationale is an alluring walk of fame that’s dotted with the sculptures of such celebrities as Rabelais and Descartes as well as with churches and other ancient buildings and musea.

The above by no means exhausts all the attractions worth seeing when traveling to Tours, but does give an idea as to how the history and art of the region have coupled to provide the city its sense of self.