Vinci International Convention Center
Tours, Loire Valley, France
Vinci International Convention Centre
26 Boulevard Heurteloup
37042 Tours Cedex 1 France
This year’s meeting is being held at the VINCI International Convention Center. The center is located in Tours, the capital of the Touraine in the Loire Valley region of France.
Tours and the surrounding area are rich with gorgeous landscapes, fairy-tale inspiring chateaux, and historically and culturally significant locales. It is easy to see why this region was favored by so many kings and queens of France. The history of Tours goes back to its establishment as a Gallo-Roman city in the first century AD. Tours has been able to evolve into a thriving, modern city while keeping centuries of history alive in its streets. Guided tours of the city area are available through the Office de Tourisme in about every manner possible: from walking tours and night tours to hot air balloon chateaux tours.
Tours was the capital of the kingdom of France during the 15th and 16th centuries. As you walk through the city, the past and present come together all around you. The rue de la Scellerie leads you through the antique dealers’ quarter and past the Grand Theatre, built in 1869. The Place Plumereau, in the mediaeval area of the city is a central hub where there are many cafés to choose from. It is surrounded by a maze of ancient pedestrian streets. The Charlemagne Tower stands over the tomb of Charlemagne’s wife, Luitgarde, who died in 800 AD. The old city, known as ‘Vieux Tours’ was set for demolition in the middle of the 20th century, but was saved and restored instead. It has grown into a thriving shopping area. Centuries of historical and architectural heritage can be seen in its streets. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, the fine arts museum, was formerly the Archbishop’s Palace (17th & 18th c.), and the Touraine Wine Museum offers incite into the history and practices of wine making in the province. Tours has almost 150 listed and protected monuments of special interest, including the Grand Theatre, the Hôtel Gouin (home of the Musée Archéologique) and the Cathédrale St-Gatien. The cathedral is a magnificent example of the evolution of Gothic architecture (its creation spanned the entire Gothic period).
Tours is also known for its many markets. The flower market is open all day on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the Boulevard Béranger. The antiques and flea market is also open all day on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Place de la Victoire. A craft market is open all day on Saturdays at Place des Halles. Also, the Marché Gourmand takes place the first Friday of every month at Place de la Résistance.
The city of Tours is full of parks and gardens that offer a beautiful relaxing atmosphere, including the Jardin Botanique and the Parc Honoré de Balzac. For a more extensive view of the greenery around the city and a bit more exercise, the ‘Loire à Vélo’ currently contains 300 km of secure cycling routes around the Loire. Maps of the cycling paths can be found at the Ligeris office and boutique.
Throughout the Loire Valley in the Touraine province are the numerous châteaux that make the area famous. A few of the most popular are the Château d’Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years before his death; the Château de Chenonceau, once the home of Catherine de Médicis, and its river-spanning galleries; the Château d’Ussé, said to have inspired the fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty; and the Château de Villandry and its enchanting gardens.
The Ligeris tourist office, just across from the VINCI International Convention Center, can help travelers book guided tours and purchase tickets to the châteaux and events. The Ligeris Boutique in the heart of the historical district is an excellent place to pick up souvenirs from the area (www.ligeris.com)