As I arrive in Tours in preparation for my Fanny presentation, I am greeted by the wonderful Gare De Tours. A spectacular square with fine, elegant buildings, intriguing side streets, smoking tabacs and enough bread and pastry tumbling out of the local boulangerie to keep me going for ever. Just as impressive as Fanny had said it would be. She told me that wherever I go, if I elected to follow her, she would have been sure to have been there before. Just a short hop to my hotel, which it turned out, had an unexpected Hollywood Red Carpet theme. I would spending the next few days in Ginger Rogers. I don't think Fanny had done that.
The town itself is easy to navigate with old streets lined with poky peek-holes. Bliss for a nosey person like myself. Fanny's advice was to seek out the Mayor, the Postman or the gendarme, and study their shape. If they are oval, ask them where to eat well. Fanny says to never, and she repeats never, follow Americans. Shunning both pieces of advice, I following the smell of food, I made my way along Rue Colbert which was lined with restaurant after brasserie, each setting out its stall in a friendly, familiar manner - letting the diverse menus speak for themselves. No pushy marketing or cajoling required. The choices were endless. Which small, square table enticingly set with wine glasses to sit at? I walked back and forth several times before settling on 'Aux Lapin Qui Fumé', after all the Smoking Rabbit seemed like the kind of place Fanny would have approved of.
Rue Colbert really was the perfect place to sit and watch Tours go by. A Tours perhaps different to the one visited by Fanny, but essentially the same. Fanny says to ensure I spend well on food, after all the sights are for free. She is not wrong. Opposite was a small vegetarian café - Shanti - which gave it's hours as Monday to Friday 8:30am - 2pm, but I never saw it open. A more elegant neighbour, Restaurant La Ruche, attracted a slightly older clientele deep in conversation. Their young waiter was tall and slender, as thin as a rake, able to contort his body, folding himself in half to serve food as if he were a ballet dancer moonlighting at Maxims.
Fanny says that if you are rich and have the digestion of a goat, not to bother with her suggestions. Neither apply to me. The menu at the Smoking Rabbit was perfect. A choice of Grande Salades promising to tumble off the plate appealed greatly. I passed on the Salade Vegetarienne and went instead for the Salade Fruites. Piled high with leaves and fruits, topped with a dash of local honey to balance the goats cheese crostini, pink grapefruit (which was expertly cut) and a light, engaging dressing. For dessert, I had to order a firm favourite of Fanny. We've made it together. Soufflé Glacé presented as an homage to Grand Marnier. It did not disappoint.
I was delighted to note all the wines were offered by the glass, bottle and ideal for moi as a solo diner, half-bottles. The local AOC Touraine was winking at me. C'est Tres Jolie. My evening à la Rue Colbert was perfect. An eclectic pick'n'mix of people, old shuttered apartments flung open to the world, but without obvious signs of life. Gentle queues for mysterious packages formed and dissolved at Pharmacie Colbert, mingling effortlessly with well-to-do ladies meeting to quaff champagne and American tourists attempting to strike up unlikely conversations with strangers. They seem to have followed me, Fanny would not be amused. Sitting un-noticed, un-disturbed and un-rushed, I just enjoy the scene, the food and the wine. What a warm welcome to Tours.