Tours: monster square !

Visitors strolling through the historic quarter of Tours are bound to come across this pretty square ideally situated between the ‘Halles centrales’ covered marketplace and the Place Plumereau. The square is called ‘Place du grand marché’, but is also affectionately known as Monster Square!

Tours and its medieval past

Surrounded by 15th and 16th century half-timbered houses, this square was once the venue for a street market where people came to buy their poultry, eggs, butter, herbs and garlic. The sale of these condiments is a long-standing tradition: the great garlic and basil fair of Tours has endured throughout the ages and is still held at the square and the neighbouring streets every year on the 26th of July, on the feast of Saint Anne day!

Xavier Veilhan’s monster…

During an urban renewal project involving the square, the various restaurants and other shops wanted to see a contemporary work of art. Their wish was granted in 2004, in the form of a statue nearly 4 metres tall, created by Xavier Veilhan: the Monster!

A choice that was seen by some as daring and even anachronistic… but perhaps not so far off the mark after all. The monster’s date of birth is a long way off that of the surrounding houses, which date back to the Middle Ages. But with a little imagination, this monster could easily have come straight out of a fantasy tale from the Middle Ages! Or the monster could also perhaps be seen as a guardian figure symbolising the city’s power, like the dragons which used to adorn shields. Each to his own theory.

… or an excellent photo opportunity!

In any case, the monster makes a strong impact and it is highly likely that on leaving the Le Zinc or La cuisine du Monstre restaurants, for example, you will feel you should capture the moment by snapping a shot of your partner or your children against this unique backdrop. And sometimes it’s a very unusual backdrop. In March 2012, some students came up with a “street knitting” project where they dressed the monster up in a G-string (yes, you read that right) and tie, hand-knitted by some retirement home residents no less!

In short, Xavier Veilhan’s monster in the middle of Grand Marché square has become one of the many places of interest to explore during your trip to Tours.

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