The gateway to France's much-loved Loire Valley, Tours sits between the Cher and Loire rivers and is full of history and natural beauty. The central streets are lined with medieval buildings and relics, and as a university town, it has a thriving arts scene and lots of lively bars. There's plenty to do here, from shopping at one of the 30 street markets to marvelling at the Renaissance architecture at the Hôtel Goüin. Get a feel for local life with a glass of the region's wine in the main square.
Stay with history at your fingertips in a Tours hostel that has been virtually untouched since it was a turn-of-the-century home. Not sure where to start your trip? A hostel that has free tours can help guide you around town. Keep an eye out for places that have thoughtful extras: somewhere to store your luggage is always a big bonus, as are private bathrooms. Most hostels in Tours have free Wi-Fi, so you can download an online translator to brush up on your French.
The old medieval centre of Tours is home to timbered houses, churches and markets. The main square, Place Plumereau, is surrounded by tall, historic buildings and is filled with authentic cafés, restaurants and bars spilling out onto the pavements. There's a covered food market called Les Halles in Rue des Halles, as well as a food market every Tuesday on the Boulevard Heurteloup. While you're so close to the Loire Valley, you could do a spot of wine tasting. Vouvray has lots of wineries and is only 17 minutes away by bus.
Snap arty photos of Gothic and Renaissance architecture at Tours Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church with intricately designed stained glass windows, or take in some fine art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. You can pick up a picnic of local cheeses at the market and take it to the Botanical Garden, which is free to enter. If you fancy getting active, rent a bike and head out on the Loire à Vélo cycle path, a 900km bike route that takes in the valley's famous châteaux and rolling landscapes.
Tours Val de Loire Airport is 45 minutes from Gare du Tours railway station in the centre of the town. Take the tram from Terminus Vaucanson, just 10 minutes from the airport. This is the station you need for trains to other major cities, including Paris. To get from sight to sight, you can walk or take the bus.