Arriving France, and onto Tours
Tours Travel Blog› entry 1 of 19 › view all entries
Oh God, France! The language and the various stereotypes associated to it and all things French have become a part of people's lives, people have heard about it, talk about it and know so many things about France and French. My first exposure to the French culture was a kid growing up in Zambia, and learning French from age 4. When I was 9, I visited France with my parents. We stayed at the ISKCON guest house in Chateau d'Ermenonville, and I have the fondest memories from back then - waking up early morning in the cold, walking to the train station, the fresh fruit for breakfast and taking walks in the evening after early dinner at 730pm. Then itself, I knew that France was all about flamboyance, about big houses... err... chateaus, fountains at the corner of every other road and a love for food.
But through the years, other than my love for quiches, crepes, and the French language of course, I'd forgotten what a lovely country it is, and despite the numerous visits to the UK, had never considered visiting France.
We arrived about 30 minutes late, which is good considering that we waited for 1 hr in Dallas for transit passengers. That's the thing I hate most about this soft economy... LOL - had this happened in 2005 or something, the airline would've just left!
Anyway, Paris was a bit too sunny when we arrived. I couldn't believe, rather, had forgotten what an ugly airport CDG was. The gates were full as the plane parked on the tarmac and in 80s style we had to hop on board a bus that drove us to the main terminal.
I kind of had a problem finding my way to the train station in the airport, it was a long walk. I found the basement entry leading to the train stations, and thank God I had soem spare euros as the ticket dispensers wouldn't accept my credit cards (American credit cards don't have that chip that's needed to buy tickets from those machines). Made my way to the Gare Montparnasse and got my tickets to both Tours as well as my Eurostar ticket to London for the following week.
I had no problems finding the train but was quite surprised at how crowded the train station seems. I boarded my train to Tours after grabbing much needed fuel in the shape of a stale muffin and a bag of crisps. The train wasn't very comfortable but manageable. My only gripe at this point was the so-called "French countryside scenery". It was dry. Terrible infact, almost as bad as the dry barren lands one sees between Dallas to Austin. And for the so-called TGV, it was hardly fast. It was perhaps the regular speed of trains I've seen in the UK.
Train arrived in Tours and the railaway station looked very fancy. I have to say, as soon as I got off the station, I got a good vibe that I'll like this town. It had a very smalltown safey feel, very bright and lively atmo to boot. My hotel was dead close to the station as well. When they wrote on the website that it's about 5 minutes walk to the station, they weren't lying!!
I checked in, I got a good room although small, took a shower and headed out for a walk around town by 3pm.
Tours is a darling little town - tons of little side walkways, tons of pedestrians-only roads and the typical "big street" that forms the backbone of the city. I walked across the Rue Nationale stopping off at the picturesque Hotel De Ville with its colourful architecture, and the very nicely maintained garden and water pond in front of it. I continued my walk along shaded boulevards, tons of street side cafes, the wonderful smell of creperies and pattiseries, and made my way to a few book stores to look for some FLE books. The Rue nationale ends in the Pont (Bridge) Nelson, which was kind of running empty (well the River below). It was here I found out why even my train ride was looking so dull what with dried out sunflowers and all. Turns out that this area had one of its wost droughts for the last 2 weeks.
From here, I went to a fairly interesting place - Les Halles et Grand Marché.
It was getting close to sunset by this time, so I cashed in and went for a walk to the city's landmark, its church - Cathedrale St-Gatien.