Located on the lower reaches of the Loire River between Orléans and the Atlantic coast, Tours (pop. 142,000) is the largest city in the Loire Valley.
Tours has long had a reputation as a conservative, bourgeois city, but the increasing numbers of commuters to Paris (now less than a hour away on the TGV line) have livened it up significantly. The surrounding Touraine region is known for its wines, its châteaux, and for the unaccented perfection of its spoken French.
Basilica of St. Martin
This Neo-Byzantine basilica stands on the site of the tomb of St. Martin of Tours. Next to it are two Romanesque towers and a Renaissance cloister from an earlier basilica.
Dedicated to the first bishop of Tours, this mostly Gothic cathedral was built at a leisurely pace from 1170 to 1547. Notable features include elaborately decorated west towers and medieval stained glass.