L is for Loire

We wanted to get from France to Belgium, and after looking at how ridiculously long the trains were from Bordeaux, we decided to stop on the way for one night in Tours, a small but bustling university city, located on the Loire river. We obviously didn’t have a whole load of time here (hence a rather short blog post) but we wanted to try and get a bit of the city into the afternoon (especially because the guest house we were staying at was a bit strange).

We wandered down the large Main Street, which is surprisingly pleasant thanks to all of the trees and greenery. The city is full of architectural gems, hidden throughout its busy streets. We thought we were taking a shortcut through a park and them realised that all the exits were closed, felt like the beginning to a horror movie). We took a look at the magnificent Cathedrale St-Gatien, a vision in stained glass and beautiful flying buttresses. The twin towers of the exterior were also impressive in a tall and towering kind of way. As we wandered through the cathedral someone seemed to be getting a lesson in playing the giant organ, which was quite funny to listen to.

After the cathedral we walked alongside the Loire river and made our way to the medieval central section of the city, which has tight little cobbled streets and a giant public square lined with restaurants and bars. In this area was the Basilica of St Martin, a complete contrast to the Cathedral’s renaissance/gothic styles with its ornate Romanesque architecture and a very damp smelling crypt below. Around the basilica were the ancient remains of the Charlemagne Tower and the original basilica whichever dated from ages ago…not going to get any more specific than that sorry :P.

All this architecture had made me hungry so we found a bar in the central square and settled in with some cider and pizza (the great vegetarian back up option, I will probably be sick of it before we even reach Italy). We ate slowly, as the sun went down and the students all came out. It was a great way to end a short but busy afternoon in a beautiful little city. And of course, as it was our last night in France (sob) we couldn’t finish without a Crème Brûlée that was nothing less than perfection.

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1. Beautiful buildings that looked important but I couldn’t be bothered to cross the road for
2&3. The cathedral thought it would be too big for my camera, pfft
4. The peaceful Loire river
5. The Basilica looking a little lovely and strange
6. & 7. The medieval town square where we ate which was charming and particularly lovely with a cold cider in the hot sun
8. No better way than to finish off our time in France

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