Place:Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France


Alt namesBeaumont-les-Tourssource: Family History Library Catalog
Caesarodunumsource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998) p 12585; Times Atlas of World History (1993) p 339
Civitas Turonorumsource: Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1979) p 182-183
St-Jean-de-Beaumontsource: Family History Library Catalog
Turonessource: Times Atlas of World History (1993) p 358
Turonisource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998)
Coordinates47.383°N 0.7°E
Located inIndre-et-Loire, France
Contained Places
Tours Cathedral
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Tours is one of the largest cities in the Centre-Val de Loire region of France. It is the prefecture of the Indre-et-Loire department. The commune of Tours had 136,463 inhabitants as of 2018 while the population of the whole metropolitan area was 516,973.

Tours sits on the lower reaches of the Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Formerly named Caesarodunum by its founder, Roman Emperor Augustus, it possesses one of the largest amphitheaters of the Roman Empire, the Tours Amphitheatre. Known for the Battle of Tours in 732 CE, it is a National Sanctuary with connections to the Merovingians and the Carolingians, with the Capetians making the kingdom's currency the Livre tournois. Saint Martin, Gregory of Tours and Alcuin were all from Tours. Tours was once part of Touraine, a former province of France. Tours was the first city of the silk industry. It was wanted by Louis XI, royal capital under the Valois Kings with its Loire castles and city of art with the School of Tours. The prefecture was partially destroyed during the French Wars of Religion in the late 18th century, and again in June 1940.

The White and Blue city keeps a historical center registered in the UNESCO, and is home to the Vieux-Tours, a patrimonial site. The garden city has a green heritage and an urban landscape strongly influenced by its natural space. The historic city that is nicknamed "Le Petit Paris" and its region by its history and culture has always been a land of birth or host to many personalities, international sporting events, and is a university city with more than 30,000 students in 2019. Tours is a popular culinary city with specialties such as: rillettes, rillons, Touraine vineyards, AOC Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine cheeses and nougats. The city is also the end-point of the annual Paris–Tours cycle race.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

In Gallic times, Tours was an important crossing point over the river Loire. It became part of the Roman Empire during the 1st century CE, and the city was named "" ("hill of Caesar"). The name evolved in the 4th century when the original Gallic name, Turones, became "Civitas Turonum", and then "Tours". It was at this time that the Tours Amphitheatre was built.

Tours became a metropolis in the Roman province of Lugdunum towards 380–388 CE, dominating Maine, Brittany, and the Loire Valley. One important figure in the city was Saint Martin of Tours, a bishop who shared his coat with a naked beggar in Amiens. The importance of Martin in the medieval Christian West made Tours, and its position on the route of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a major centre during the Middle Ages.

Middle Ages

In the 6th century Gregory of Tours, author of the Ten Books of History, restored a cathedral destroyed by a fire in 561. Saint Martin's monastery benefited from its inception, at the very start of the 6th century from patronage and support from the Frankish king, Clovis I, which increased considerably the influence of the saint, the abbey and the city in Gaul. In the 9th century, Tours was at the heart of the Carolingian Rebirth, in particular because of Alcuin, an abbot of Marmoutier Abbey.

In 732, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi and an army of Muslim horsemen from Al-Andalus advanced deep into France, and were stopped at Moussais-la-Bataille (between Châtellerault and Poitiers) by Charles Martel and his infantry. This ignited the Battle of Tours. The Muslim army was defeated, preventing an Islamic conquest of France.

In 845, Tours repelled the first attack of the Viking chief Haesten. In 850, the Vikings settled at the mouths of the Seine and the Loire. Still led by Haesten, they went up the Loire again in 852 and sacked Angers, Tours and Marmoutier Abbey.

During the Middle Ages, Tours consisted of two juxtaposed and competing centres. The "City" in the east, successor of the late Roman 'castrum', was composed of the cathedral and palace of the archbishops as well as the castle of Tours. The castle of Tours acted as a seat of the authority of the Counts of Tours (later Counts of Anjou) and the King of France. In the west, the "new city" structured around the Abbey of Saint Martin was freed from the control of the city during the 10th century (an enclosure was built towards 918) and became "Châteauneuf". This space, organized between Saint Martin and the Loire, became the economic centre of Tours. Between these two centres were Varennes, vineyards and fields, little occupied except for the Abbaye Saint-Julien established on the banks of the Loire. The two centres were linked during the 14th century.

Tours became the capital of the county of Tours or Touraine, a territory bitterly disputed between the counts of Blois and Anjou – the latter were victorious in the 11th century. It was the capital of France at the time of Louis XI, who had settled in the castle of Montils (today the castle of Plessis in La Riche). Tours and Touraine remained a permanent residence of the kings and court until the 16th century. The rebirth gave Tours and Touraine many private mansions and castles, joined to some extent under the generic name of the Châteaux of the Loire. It is also at the time of Louis XI that the silk industry was introduced – despite difficulties, the industry still survives to this day.

16th–18th centuries

Charles IX passed through the city at the time of his royal tour of France between 1564 and 1566, accompanied by the Court and various noblemen: his brother the Duke of Anjou, Henri de Navarre, the cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. At this time, the Catholics returned to power in Angers: the attendant assumed the right to nominate the aldermen. The Massacre of Saint-Barthelemy was not repeated at Tours. The Protestants were imprisoned by the aldermen – a measure which prevented their extermination. The permanent return of the Court to Paris and then Versailles marked the beginning of a slow but permanent decline. Guillaume the Metayer (1763–1798), known as Rochambeau, the well known counter-revolutionary chief of Mayenne, was shot there on Thermidor 8, year VI.

19th–20th centuries

The arrival of the railway in the 19th century saved the city by making it an important nodal point. The main railway station is known as Tours-Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. At that time, Tours was expanding towards the south into a district known as the Prébendes. The importance of the city as a centre of communications contributed to its revival and, as the 20th century progressed, Tours became a dynamic conurbation, economically oriented towards the service sector.

First World War

The city was greatly affected by the First World War. A force of 25,000 American soldiers arrived in 1917, setting up textile factories for the manufacture of uniforms, repair shops for military equipment, munitions dumps, an army post office and an American military hospital at Augustins. Because of this, Tours became a garrison town with a resident general staff. The American presence is remembered today by the Woodrow Wilson bridge over the Loire, which was officially opened in July 1918 and bears the name of the President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Three American air force squadrons, including the 492nd, were based at the Parçay-Meslay airfield, their personnel playing an active part in the life of the city. Americans paraded at funerals and award ceremonies for the Croix de Guerre; they also took part in festivals and their YMCA organised shows for the troops. Some men married women from Tours.

Inter-war years

In 1920, the city hosted the Congress of Tours, which saw the creation of the French Communist Party.

Second World War

Tours was also marked by the Second World War as the city suffered massive destruction in 1940. For four years it was a city of military camps and fortifications. From 10 to 13 June 1940, Tours was the temporary seat of the French government before its move to Bordeaux.

German incendiary bombs caused a huge fire which blazed out of control from 20 to 22 June and destroyed part of the city centre. Some architectural masterpieces of the 16th and 17th centuries were lost, as was the monumental entry to the city. The Wilson Bridge that carried a water main which supplied the city was dynamited to slow the progress of the German advance. With the water main severed, nobody was able to extinguish the inferno, therefore inhabitants had no option but to flee to safety. More heavy air raids by Allied forces devastated the area around the railway station in 1944, causing several hundred deaths.

Post-war developments

A plan for the rebuilding of the downtown area drawn up by the local architect Camille Lefèvre was adopted even before the end of the war. The plan was for 20 small quadrangular blocks of housing to be arranged around the main road (la rue Nationale), which was widened. This regular layout attempted to echo, yet simplify, the 18th-century architecture. Pierre Patout succeeded Lefèvre as the architect in charge of rebuilding in 1945. At one time there was talk of demolishing the southern side of the rue Nationale in order to make it in keeping with the new development.

The recent history of Tours is marked by the personality of Jean Royer, who was Mayor for 36 years and helped save the old town from demolition by establishing one of the first Conservation Areas. This example of conservation policy would later inspire the Malraux Law for the safeguarding of historic city centres. In the 1970s, Jean Royer also extended the city to the south by diverting the course of the river Cher to create the districts of Rives du Cher and des Fontaines. At the time, this was one of the largest urban developments in Europe. In 1970, the François Rabelais University was founded; this is centred on the bank of the Loire in the downtown area, and not – as it was then the current practice – in a campus in the suburbs. The latter solution was also chosen by the twin university of Orleans. Royer's long term as Mayor was, however, not without controversy, as exemplified by the construction of the practical – but aesthetically unattractive – motorway which runs along the bed of a former canal just from the cathedral. Another bone of contention was the original Vinci Congress Centre by Jean Nouvel. This project incurred debts although it did, at least, make Tours one of France's principal conference centres.

Jean Germain, a member of the Socialist Party, became Mayor in 1995 and made debt reduction his priority. Ten years later, his economic management was regarded as much wiser than that of his predecessor due to the financial stability of the city returning. However, the achievements of Jean Germain were criticized by the municipal opposition for a lack of ambition. There were no large building projects instituted under his double mandate. This position is disputed by those in power, who affirm their policy of concentrating on the quality of life, as evidenced by urban restoration, the development of public transport and cultural activities.

External links

  • For more information, see the FR Wikipedia article Tours.

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