Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Tours
Tours, the busy capital of Touraine (the much lauded "Garden of France"), chief town of the département of Indre-et-Loire, the see of an archbishop and a university town, lies on both banks of the Loire. In addition to considerable industry the town has an extensive trade in agricultural produce.
In Roman times Tours was known as Caesarodunum and later as Urbs Turones (the city of a Gallic tribe, the Turones). In the third century St Gatien brought Christianity to the region, and in the fourth century the preaching of St Martin made Tours an important religious center. Round the church in which he was buried there grew up the little town of Martinopolis (later known as Châteauneuf), which subsequently joined up with the Roman settlement to form the town of Tours. In 732 Charles Martel defeated the Moors advancing into France from Spain in the battle of Tours and Poitiers. During the Carolingian Renaissance there was a famous school of painters here.
Tours was ravaged by Norman raids, during which the basilica of St Martin, the abbey and 28 churches were burned down, and by conflicts between the Counts of Blois and Anjou. In the 15th and 16th centuries silk-weaving brought the town prosperity: at one time no fewer than 8,000 looms were at work in the town, employing 20,000 weavers and 40,000 assistants - altogether three-quarters of the population of 80,000. Tours became a stronghold of Protestantism, and as a result was the scene of a horrifying massacre 10 years before the St Bartholomew's Day massacre in Paris.