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232km (144 miles) SW of Paris; 113km (70 miles) SW of Orléans

Though it doesn’t have a major château, Tours (pop. 137,000), at the junction of the Loire and Cher rivers, is known for its food and wine. Many of its buildings were bombed in World War II, and 20th-century apartment towers have taken the place of castles. But the downtown core is quite charming, and because Tours is at the doorstep of some of the most magnificent châteaux in France, it makes a good base from which to explore.