18 April 2007

Ville de Tours: the old city

Tours was heavily bombarded by the Germans as well as by the Allied Forces (Americans, British, Canadians) at different times during the 1940-45 war. The neighborhoods closest to the Loire River were subjected to the worst destruction.

Les Trois Rois is a café in an old building
on the Place Plumereau in old Tours.

A few hundred yards from the riverfront, the old neighborhoods suffered less damage. The same is true of other cities in France — Rouen, in Normandy, for example. The rivers and bridges were strategic targets for both sides in the war.

The area called the Place Plumereau is surrounded by cafés and restaurants, and in warm weather the eating and drinking establishments cover the place (square) with tables where their customers can enjoy sitting outside.

There are a lot of half-timbered houses
on the Place Plumereau and along the adjacent streets.

The neighborhoods around the Place Plumereau were built and lived in by the courtiers of the French king Louis XI in the late 1400s, so a lot of the houses you see there are more than 500 years old.

The Tour Charlemagne in the rue des Halles

South of the Place Plumereau is a street called Rue des Halles and an area that was once a major religious center. It grew up around the site of the tomb of St. Martin, one of the major church figures in French history. In the 5th century, a gigantic basilica was built here.

La Tour de l'Horloge (the clock tower) in the rue des Halles

Five hundred years later, that structure burned down and was replaced by another immense church, built in about 1015 A.D. Only two towers of that edifice survive — the two in these pictures. Nowadays, where great churches once stood, the streets is lined with shops and boutiques selling luxury products.

The Cadogan guide informs me that the tomb of St. Martin of Tours was rediscovered during an archaeological dig here in about 1860. To celebrate, a new basilica was built on the site. As you can see, it's of a completely different style (neo-Byzantine). On aime ou on n'aime pas. Some like it; some don't.

These houses are on the Place du Grand Marché.

O Kalm is a play on words. Au calme, pronounced identically, means "quiet, peaceful, out of the way" in describing, for example, a house or a hotel or some other place. It might also mean eaux calmes, calm waters, which is pronounced the same way. You can read the word Heineken in small letters on the awning, so this is a bar or café.



  1. Thanks for the memories. I am actually going up to Tours next weekend on a voyage éclair to see my best friend from up there -- she's moving back to the States with her whole French-American family. Don't know if we'll have time to get into town though as she lives in the suburbs.

  2. fantastic.... i used to live in an flat next to the remaining saint martin tower. i believe my doors opened to the cloister.... great memories. thanks for sharing

  3. Thanks for the information..I was not aware of these places..


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