|Detail on old shopfront, Tours|
I've come into town from Montbazon on the bus for a whole €2! And that's good value in my view. The bus station isn't worth a second glance but the railway station, less than 20 metres away, is. Constructed in 1898 it is a striking piece of architecture. But that's not why you should visit - just take a couple of minutes to have a look at the walls inside. Yes I'm not joking! There are some stunning representations of fin de siècle travel posters set into the walls enticing you to come to destinations such as Cahors, Biarritz, Mont d'Ore and many more. Sadly, none have been captured for the album! But then, that's a reason to come back isn't it?
From the station on Place du Général Leclerc, it's an easy walk down rue Bernard Palissy, around the tiny park in Place François Sicard - that's my spot for lunch - past the Musée des Beaux Arts (another reason to come back) and onto the subject of my first visit, Cathédrale St Gatien. And that name, by the way, is relatively new.
The original cathedral on this spot was dedicated to St Maurice and built by the then Bishop of Tours (337-371), Lidoire. Burnt in the 6th century and rebuilt and rededicated, it still did not have an easy time of things. Destroyed yet again in 1166 because of Louis VII's spat with our own Henry 2, rebuilding began as early as 1170. But the work was very slow with the chancel taking 43 years to complete (1236-1279).
Cathédrale St Gatien
The transept was built in the 14th century and the nave was finally completed in the 15th century. Then the cathedral was extended and the towers added - the first in 1507 and the second - taking 13 years of work - was completed in 1547. Seven architects later and what you see today is a record of architectural styles. It's hard to call this building either gothic or Romanesque because both styles are clearly represented, as is the renaissance. So I'll just call it a mish-mash!
The cathedral received its new name in 1356. The windows in the chancel are stunning pieces of work as are the three rose windows and it really is worth the wait for the sun to move round and illuminate them properly.
|Watch out for the one on the right!|
From here it's a ten-minute walk down rue Colbert, once the principle street in medieval times, and rue du Commerce to Place Plumereau - the locals call it 'Place Plum'. Here you can find some of the best places in town to drink coffee, eat and meet friends. But in the streets around here are some of the oldest buildings in the city with some very interesting features on the shop and house frontages.
I'll be back in Tours next month when I will be sharing with you some further delights in this fabulous city.