Wednesday 3 October 2012

Retour de Tours

You know how it is when you arrive in a strange town as night falls, dump your things at the hotel, and set out to find somewhere to eat. Invariably you trudge the streets for a long while, discussing the pros and cons of each restaurant, taking a look round just one more corner, weighing all the options - then going back to the first place you saw and having what turns out to be the worst meal of your whole stay.
 Well, in Tours the other evening, I'm happy to say, it was a very different story. In what was surely an all-time first, we settled on a restaurant within minutes, went straight in - and had a truly superb meal, which would have been the best of the stay had it not been knocked off the top spot by an even more wondrous dinner on the last evening.
 Tours is that kind of place - it seems to be almost impossible to have anything less than a good meal, however cheap the menu, and wonderfully easy to find something a great deal more than good. There is plenty more to commend the place too - a glorious cathedral with a profusion of breathtaking stained glass, a picturesque old town and many other delightful streets for strolling in, the wide and luminous Loire to walk beside, and beautiful public gardens, planted by gardeners with an unfailing eye for mixing plants and colours.
 What makes Tours still more attractive is that - unlike many French towns - it has a relaxed, and relaxing, atmosphere. Why, the drivers even stop for pedestrians when they don't have to - incroyable! There are very few beggars and none of the signs of decay and dereliction that are beginning to be apparent in many French towns and cities. The people - who claim to speak the purest form of French (which makes life a bit easier for us foreigners) - seem calmly self-assured, comfortable and prosperous, getting on with enjoying life. In fact, if you're thinking of taking a French small-city break, I heartily reocmmend a few days in Tours. You'll feel better for it.


  1. Glad you had a Bon vacance, Nige!

  2. Sounds lovely.

    We spent a night in beautiful Dijon about a month ago and I was struck by the number of homeless people, particularly by how many of them were able-bodied men. We witnessed some very brazen drug dealing too. I thought it was just something about Dijon but perhaps not.