Tours of Tours

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  ,
Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Honey I shrunk Paris! Tours has only about 150,000 people and is about 150km south-west of Paris, but it gives of a very similar vibe.
It has the café-lined streets, the quiet gardens, countless museums, and an incredible amount of cultural diversity. The shops and eateries specialize in goods from all over the world and all within a few blocks. Just as we thought we had seen it all, we came across a bagpipe band playing along the river. They even have a surprisingly large amount of Irish pubs (Meg's cider-sense was in overdrive). With 1 in 4 of the inhabitants in Tours being students, the town has a very young and eclectic energy. Not a place to come and relax, but if you are up for some nightlife and a serious cultural experience, this is the place.
After walking through the town trying to process the overload of cultural stimuli around us, we took the evening to compare and judge the quality of the Cider in the various Irish Pubs. It was a very thorough sampling... we think. 
The next day (a little later than usual for some reason), we headed to the museum that sounded the most unique. The Musee du Compagnonnage. This place houses a collection of masterpieces, but not the usual statues and paintings. Rather, it holds such things as wooden carvings, intricate metal work, and decorated cakes so perfect you would not dare try to take a bite. They even have a 19th century door lock that is designed to shoot you if you don't unlock it properly. The crafts were all created by journeymen of a sort if brotherhood. The "Guilds of the Journeyman Companions" has roots that go back to the medieval era.  They were, and continue to be, master craftsmen with strong ties to the Freemasons. There isn't a formal test to qualify for inclusion in the Guild, your outstanding abilities have to stand out enough to be recognized by the existing membership. These are the craftsmen that are called upon for the serious jobs such as building cathedrals or giving the Statue of Liberty a facelift.
We managed to take a couple of pictures before being told they were prohibited in the museum (see pictures). Incredibly precise stuff.
We only scratched the surface of Tours. It has an astonishing amount to offer for a relatively small place. We didn't even get to experience the legendary wine industry or breathtaking chateaux that surround the city.
We would definitely come back, but now we are off down the valley to Blois.
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