Tuesday, July 2, 2013

An Evening in Tours

It's been awhile since I last did a post about our trip to Europe, so I thought today we would take a short break from the Disney and journey to France!

If you recall, we had been exploring the castles of the Loire Valley - the Chateau Chambord and the Chateau de Cheverny.  We were returning through the gathering dusk to our hotel in the city of Tours...

Crossing the Loire River

The following day we would be moving on to another city, so we wanted to make our last hours in Tours count!  The shops were still open for an hour or two, so we stopped in a few...

You would normally associate England with tea, but in a Printemps we found a huge selection of lovely French teas!  In front of every box they had a little glass full of tea leaves so you could see what you were getting.  My brother, who considers himself a connoisseur of teas, sniffed a few and carefully chose one!  I almost bought this one...

It's a French Earl Grey with...do you see what those blue things are?  Actual flowers mixed right in with the tea!  I know some teas do have floral flavors, but you don't normally SEE the flowers right in amongst the tea leaves.  They certainly were pretty with that bright blue color.

We strolled along towards the old part of town....

This was quite literally a corner bookstore...or rather, a bookstore built into a corner!  It was SO tiny.  Most people wouldn't even think of using such a small space for a shop, love it!

A sign in another bookshop window also caught my eye...it says the shop is closed for inventory.  I work in a bookstore, and we had just completed our inventory, so it was fun to see the same thing going on in a different country across the Atlantic!

The shops were closing, but the deepening blue sky was so lovely hanging over all the old buildings and plazas, so we kept wandering for a little while...

In old European cities, the cars almost look out of place!  I bet this area was filled with carts and carriages and horses in centuries past.

I just LOVED all the crazy rooftops and windows and little funny architectural details.  Buildings in Europe have so much more character than modern metal structures.


The walls look like they're leaning across the cobbled streets to gossip about something!  Some of the buildings looked so old you almost couldn't believe they were still standing...


...like these old timbered ones!  It was so interesting to see them standing side by side buildings from other eras - like looking at a time line in architecture, stretching out right in front of you down the street.

I loved the houses with the little towers.  See that one on the left, with the little round window?  So cute!

The most incredible architectural sight, however, turned out to be something you couldn't see.  That domed building in the above photo is of the current Basilique San Martin.  It was built in 1886, but there's been a building here for much, much longer than that.

St. Martin died in the year 397, and a basilica was built shortly after that around his tomb.  They added to it and added to over the centuries it until it was a truly massive church:

During the conflicts of the middle ages, much of it was destroyed - but not all.  There are still a few of the towers left standing.  This is the Clock Tower...

You can see that right down the street if you're standing near the present-day basilica and another set of ruins, the Charlemagne Tower...

The towers are now separated by a city block, and it was mind-bending to stand there and try to imagine all that space enclosed within one structure.  When you're standing inside a cathedral or church, you definitely get the sense of a very large space with the soaring ceilings and the long aisles; but when only a few bits of the building are left and you can see ordinary streets and houses now built between them, you get a whole new sense of what a massive scale these churches were built on!

Here's a google maps view - I drew a circle around the Clock Tower and the Charlegmagne Tower and of course you can see the basilica to the right.  And those two towers used to be connected by a giant church - isn't that crazy?

I wish I'd gotten a better photo of the map on this sign - it showed a little sketch of the basilica, with the cloisters and towers, and how it would've overlaid the current city streets.  But I did get a quick video of it:

Hope it's a great Tuesday!

1 comment:

  1. That was outstanding! Thanks for this interesting sharing. I really enjoy each part of your blog and your photographs make this story more interesting. My most favorite photo is in which we can see the sky is in deep blue color. I just wish to see these entire scenes in my real life. Now I am planning my usa east coast tour with my brother for spring break but after to complete this tour I must go France.