Tours Cathedral is named Saint-Gatien and it was built between 1170 and 1547 (another church that took more than 8 generations to build, that's incredible what religion can do).
This is one of the big cathedrals in France, though with its 87 meters is not in the top 10, Amiens Cathedral being 112 meters high, Chartres being 114 meters high, Strasbourg's 142 meters. The tallest is in Ulm, Germany, its spire topping 161 meters.
Beside the grandeur and the vast space inside, the stained glass is very impressive, covering a very large area and letting a lot of light coming in.
Verdon means gift of the green
Verdon will take your breath away.It is a deep green colour and nature has given its waters a large quanity of flourine which acts on small algae and creates this unusual colour which increases with depth of the water.This gift of nature gave rise to the name of the river,Verdon,which means "gift of green".
Tours, great base for the Loire Valley chateaus
"Central location for chateau hopping . . ."
If you want to visit Loire Valley chateaus, Tours is a large university city that is very centrally located. There is a vibrant student life, excellent shopping, a charming Old Town area, excellent restaurants and a very good Tourist Office where you can book tours to visit many nearby chateaus.
We have not stayed in Tours since we prefer smaller towns. We've rented a gite in the area (Montrichard-Faverolles) and stayed in Azay-le-Rideau nearby. It is easier to stay in smaller towns if you have a car. If you want to use public transportation, a city would be much easier; hence, this recommendation for Tours.
"We've driven through often"
. . . but never stayed there. We lease a car from the Peugeot Open Europe leasing program but I know many people don't like to drive in a foreign country or just prefer public transportation. For those people or for those who prefer large cities with their many offerings, Tours would be terrific for a visit to many of the famous chateaus, churches, gardens, monasteries and other tourist attractions.
Nearby and easily reached are chateaus at Amboise, Chenonceau, Chinon, Langeais, Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Blois, Chaumont, Cheverny, Chambord, Saumur, Luynes, Fougeres-sur-Bievre, Loches, Montpoupon and probably others I've forgotten just offhand.
If you can only visit a few, my recommendations (in order) would be:
Chenonceau and include a visit to the gardens
Amboise and include a visit to da Vinci's Clos Luce
Villandry and include a visit to the famous gardens
Azay-le-Rideau and see the sound and light show if you're there in season
Chaumont and include a visit to the festival gardens
Chambord, not my favorite but the largest of the chateaus
Each site offers a different experience and there are abbeys and historical sights in addition to great natural beauty in the area so plan at least a week here if you can.
"Visit a few chateaus during the day."
Here are links to my pages for the various chateau cities.
Chaumont -sur-Loire http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/7ba16/1fa83/
You should also type the names of each town into the Virtual Tourist Search Window to see Travel Pages by other members. These will include photos, reviews, tips and web links to more information.
CarolynShort's new Tours Page
I spent a fortnight in Joue-le-Tours, on a school exchange, staying with a French family, when I was 14. The family took me to a couple of chateau's, as well as giving me an insight into their genuine French life of fresh food shopping, private wine caves, and late night meals of soft cheese, green beans, tomato slices in vinegarette, and under-cooked meat (which took some getting used to - but now I love rare steak!)