Shopping, great stores and markets
Tours and its retail dynamism, town and village markets, the season of flea markets and car-boot sales – in Touraine temptation is everywhere.
Tours, the shopping city
For a long time Tours was known as the little Paris for its retailing dynamism, and is sure to delight all serial shoppers. Ideal for the elegant, the daring or the fashion victim – here they are sure to track down a bargain or a brand-new item.
In Tours, shopping is a discipline bringing together a considerable number of practitioners of both sexes, attracted by the dynamism and variety of a whole host of shops at the heart of the city centre. The main high street, Rue Nationale, now reserved for pedestrians and the tramway, includes many nationally famous brands and such major retailers as Galeries Lafayette, Fnac, Nature et Découvertes, as well as the precious Boite à Livre, a bookshop-tea room that is not to be missed.
Aesthetes will head east along Rue de la Scellerie to see the elegant fashion boutiques, the antiques dealers and art galleries, the Grand Théâtre, the Fine Arts Museum, and the Cathedral.
To the west, fashion is everywhere, including all your favourite, trendy or timeless brands, with overwear and underwear, and from head to toe. In Rue des Halles, where Hermès stands beside The Kooples, Eden Park or Lacoste, independent stores delight the shoppers – such as the shoe shop Bègue with its impeccable service or the classy leather-goods store Galuchat with its collection of top-of-the-range bags and suitcases. While younger consumers will head further on to find that awesome pair of trainers in a limited edition, others will make for the city’s most famous discounter, Palaf Soldes. Here, among the clothes rails overloaded with discount apparel, you’ll see elegant ladies out on a spree and ordinary housewives, all looking for the bargain that will make the neighbour dead jealous. Lastly, demanding gourmets can visit the most appetising stalls in the city in the indoor market at Place des Halles.
Lastly, the well-named Rue de Bordeaux lies to the south of the centre, with the Printemps department store in pride of place with its Art Deco façade. Nearby, Fred Aston is still a reference for the gilded youth looking for brands that get tongues wagging in the Lycées.
Markets and second-hand goods, fine stalls and vintage pearls
Touraine is a generous land, pouring forth its finest produce on markets stalls. As well as the Halles market in Tours, many towns and villages have weekly, colourful and picturesque markets. In beautiful indoor markets in towns like Richelieu, St Maure or Bourgueil, in the streets or lively town squares and welcoming café and restaurant terraces, such as in Loches and Chinon, on the banks of the Loire like in Amboise, local farmers convey their passion with the finest seasonal fruits and vegetables, asparagus and melons, apples and pears, as well as Gélines chickens, rillettes, rillons, goat cheese, etc. Lastly, on Wednesdays, when children have the day off school, there is also a famous flower market in Boulevard Béranger in Tours.
From the first signs of spring until the end of autumn, antiques hunters meet up every Sunday, at dawn for the keenest, to find the item they’ve been looking for or the collector’s piece they’ve been missing.
From St Patrick’s Day at the beginning of the season until on 11 November in L’Ile Bouchard, visiting the antiques markets is another way to visit Touraine, from Langeais at Easter to Amboise at Whitsun, via Beaumont-la-Ronce on Ascension Day… Yes, springtime will be busy. In Tours and Chinon every month professional antiques dealers select their finest pieces for you. In the wine-region towns like Vouvray, you can make the day last a bit longer in the wine cellars, in Tavant visit the magnificent 12th century church and in all the villages, especially in the south of Touraine, take the time to stroll and enjoy the countryside.