Already inhabited 5000 years ago, the city was caught in 762 by Pepin the Short and his son, the future Charlemagne. The city became the most powerful fortress in the area then called Aquitaine. Under English domination during the Hundred Years' War, Thouars was conquered by Du Guesclin, chief of Charles V's armies, at the end of a long siege.
Thouars is full of medieval artifacts, with walls, towers, and Roman churches. The Trémoille castle, completed in 1638, has an impressive facade over the Thouet river valley and the Chouans bridge, where a decisive battle was fought during the French revolution.
The small city has given its name to the Toarcian geologic age, in Early Jurassic, and the rock strata for this age can clearly be seen in a quarry near Thouars.
By train from Saumur, Tours, Poitiers, Angers.
By bus from Poitiers and Niort.
The nearest airports are in Nantes, Poitiers, La Rochelle, but if you are a pilot there is an airstripe at the aérodrome de Thouars.
By car via the A10, A85, A87 highways.
The historical center can be visited by foot. The city is also enjoyable by bicycle, with a few hard slopes along the Thouet river valley. Cars won't have any issue finding parking space.
Rental of bicycles (including electric assisted ones) is available in Thouars and around, see http://www.projets-thouarsais.fr/tvelos-modalites-location/ (in French) or call the tourist information center.
- 1 Château des ducs de La Trémoille (Collège Marie de la Tour d'Auvergne), 1 Place du Château, ☏ . It was built in a strategic location over the Thouet river in 1638. The main building is used as a junior high school, it can't be visited but seeing it from the outside is still worth it. Also check the chapel, stables, the view over the river, and the orangery which served as a model for those in Versailles. free.
- 2 Saint-Laon church. Roman church of the 11th century. free.
- 3 Saint-Médard church. A masterpiece of Roman architecture. free.
- 4 Jeanne d'Arc chapel, 2 Rue du Jeu de Paume. Tu-Su 14:00-18:00. Small gothic chapel, it often hosts modern art exhibitions. Most often free.
- 5 Prince de Galles tower. Mostly built for defense, the tower was also a food warehouse for the army, et in the 17th century it became a prison for salt smugglers. Salt was essential to preserve meat, and subject to a heavy tax, while being tax-free in the neighbouring region Vendée. The tower can be visited, and contains modern art installations. City walls are visible around. Free.
- 6 Prévost Gate. Built for defense, this tower also served as housing for the garrison. The provost hold was both the tax collector and garrison chief. The tower is situated in front of the plain, which was the most vulnerable border of the city. Built in the 12th century, it is a great example of Middle-Age military architecture. Go under the gate to discover its two portcullis and three murder-holes. free.
- 7 Imbert Park. With vertiginous slopes and exotic plants, this park is also interesting for seeing the city walls. Free.
- 8 Hotel Tyndo. Grand townhouse built by the king Louis XI to thank Louis Tyndo who allowed the city to come under the control of the Crown, it has an interesting pentagon-shaped tower and two wings. Free.
- 1 Loisirs Plus. Bowling, squash, badminton, no-alcohol bar.
- 2 Crevant watermill ecomuseum (Moulin de Crevant). Summer for individuals, until December for groups. Gristmill and former stables, small museum. Guided tours. €2-4.
- 3 Geology Museum (Centre d’Interprétation Géologique du Thouarsais), Anciennes Ecuries du Château, rond point du 19 mars 1962, ☏ . 14:00-16:00. April 1st to June 30: closed on Saturdays; July 1st to September 30: Every day; October 1st to March 31: Monday-Friday. €1.50-4, free for kids up to 12, free every first Sunday of the month.
- 4 Regional Center "Résistance & Liberté" (CRRL), Les Ecuries du Château, rond-point du 19 mars 1962, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Museum about the Resistance movement during Workd War II.
- 5 Le Familia cinema.
- 6 Thouars Theater, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Bassins du Thouet. Swimming pool with indoor and outdoor pools, and a view on the green valley. Huge terrasse with deckchairs, water slides. €5.30.
- 1 Les Halles. Historical building in which the market takes places every Tuesday and Friday morning. Friday's market is the largest.
Thouars is famous for its melons. Wine and cheese are also produced in Thouars and the area around.
- 1 Le Hoggar. Traditional Maghreb cuisine is a relatively formal setting.
- 2 Le Logis de Pompois, 13 rue de la Gosselinière, Sainte-Verge, ☏ . Gastronomy restaurant, with a golf course just on the side. €40.
- Le Trait D'Union, 8, Place Saint Medard. €13 lunch menu.
- Au Plaisir Des Gourmets, 21 Avenue Emile Zola.
- 1 Café des Arts, 53 Rue Saint-Médard, ☏ . Very nice café with an artistic atmosphere.
- 2 Dream's Café, 38 Avenue Henri Barbusse, ☏ .
- 3 Bar de la Paix, 2 bd Ernest Renan, ☏ . Enjoy the terrace at the entrance of the main shopping street.
- 4 Le Scénario, 33 avenue victor hugo. The most active place at night. Young crowd, DJ, small dance floor.
- 1 Hotel L'Acacia, Rue Gaston Cherau.
- 2 Hôtellerie Saint-Jean, 25 Route de Parthenay, ☏ . 18 rooms. Free WiFi. Nice view on the old town center, which is reachable after a 10 minutes walk along a big road. Good restaurant.
- 3 Camping municipal, 13 Rue de la Grande Côte de Crevant, ☏ . On the side of the river, directly down from Imbert Park and the old town center. 09:00-12:00, 15:30-19:30, only during summer. €3.2.
- 1 Liberté, égalité, cybercafé, place Saint-Médard. Small Internet café with five computers €2 per hour.
- 2 Tourist Office, 32 place Saint Médard, ☏ .
- Château d'Oiron. 10 rue du château, 79100 Oiron. Phone: 05 49 96 51 25, Fax: 05 49 96 52 56. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.chateau-oiron.fr/en/ Vast castle and park, it is used as a modern art museum, and features very surprising installations.