Sunday, 12 August 2007


This weekend my Dad and I went out to the Loire valley, more specifically Tours, which is about 230 kms from Paris and only takes just over an hour to get there by TGV. Tours was the French capital in 1461, before King Henri IV moved the capital back to Paris in 1594. During this period the French kings built a lot of castles (or chateaux) in the Loire valley and because of that the valley has been classified a UNESCO world heritage site. We stayed in Tours for 2 nights and went on a day excursion to the chateaux on Saturday before spending some time in the city. It was a pretty city, but there seemed to be a much higher proportion of drunks/freaks/homeless than in Paris. There is a lot of industry near Tours, with the Michelin tyre factory and Pfizer as two main ones.

The most famous sight in Tours is probably the St-Gatin Cathedrale, which was begun in the early 13th century. The old city was also very lively and is worth a visit. Apparently it was close to being demolished in the 1960's before the mayor at the time totally revamped it. There is also the Church of St-Martin of which the only thing remaining is the Charlemagne Tower. St Martin was bishop of Tours in the 4th century and he must have been pretty popular with the people as there are now close to 400 churches named after him in France alone.
The St-Gatin Cathedrale in Tours

The old town area of Tours

The Hotel Gouin, which is now an archeaology museum with heaps of bronze-age and stone age and Roman artifacts.

We also visited the Musee des Beaux-Arts, which was in what used to be the Archbishop's house. It had some nice gardens with a stuffed elephant 'Fritz' in a big stable. Some of the paintings in the gallery were a bit ugly, I don't know what it was with painters in the middle ages but they could not paint babies. It looked like they had never seen a baby in there life and just painted a really ugly, smaller person. Check out the really ugly Jesus in this painting, Mary looks alright so it's just babies the painter had troubles with.

Though in this painting both Mary and Jesus look pretty bad, so perhaps the painter just wasn't very talented

1 comment:

Giles said...

The renaissance painters used to explicitly paint the baby Jesus with the face of an adult. Something about symbolizing that this wasn't a normal baby: he was wise from his birth.

Of course, to us, he looks like some sort of demon-spawn, but they liked it.

See also the lack of perspective