15-20 May 2011

From late September 1961 to late March 1962, eighty students from Stanford University joined the third session of its overseas studies program at Stanford-in-France on the bank of the Loire River in Tours, France (see photos from 1961-62). About 14 of us, plus some spouses, managed to assemble for a 50th reunion, first for dinner in Paris, then for four days in Tours, with excursions to chateaux and gardens, artisans and vinters, the homes of Balzac and George Sand, etc. There were dinners at bistros in Tours, and time to walk around recalling memories of a half-century ago. I had not seen any of the Tours III group since leaving Stanford, but in little time old friendships were renewed and 50 years of experience shared.

Tours III reunion


Stanford-in-France occupied a former hotel on the Place Anatole France, where the main bridge crosses the Loire River. The building, now part of the local university, is little changed since our stay except for a new parking garage under the square. The neighbourhood was rebuilt in the late 1950's after being destroyed by American bombing during the war.

former Stanford-in-France . entrance There are still traces of Stanford-in-France under the new lettering

bridge across the Loire . Rabelais
Bridge across the Loire River. The statue of Rabelais that was in front of our building was moved down the street.

Rue National . chirch across the street . back of the church
Start of the Rue National next to our building; the church across the street

Cathedral . cathedral facade .
The St. Gatien Cathedral in Tours has a Gothic facade and Renaissance towers

cathedral interior . cathedral interior . organ

windows . windows
Stained glass windows in the cathedral

Art Museum . cedar
The Bishop's Palace has become an art museum with a beautiful cedar in front

Chateau de Tours . Loire River
Tours Chateau (castle) and the Loire River across the street

Restaurant . Joan of Arc shop
The restaurant where we had our reunion dinner was one building away from the shop where Joan of Arc had her armour made.

old town . old houses . square
In the old neighborhood of medieval houses, we had one dinner on the square

Charlemagne tower . clock tower
The Charlemagne Tower and the Clock Tower are all that remain of the Basilica of St. Martin

Theatre . park
The theatre, and parks with beautiful old trees


Our first visit was to the Chateau of Chaumont overlooking the Loire River. It was the residence of Queen Catherine de Medici and of Diane de Poitiers, and was restored in the 19th century by the Prince and Princess de Broglie.

Chaumont . Chaumont

Chaumont entrance . Chamont courtyard . Chaumont view

The interiors have been furnished in the style of the period.
Salle Ruggieri . Room
Rooms of Cosimo Ruggieri (astrologer) and Catherine de Medici

Council Room . Council Room
The Council Room

Guard Room
Diane de Poitiers' bedroom, and the King's chamber

Through an art exhibit, it was possible to visit attic rooms full of discards
armour . attic . attic

Stables . view of the Loire River
The 19th century stables were the finest in the world; magnificent view of the Loire River from the castle

In the extensive gardens, there was an international garden festival, with gardens on the theme of visions of the future and biodiversity
bathroom . kitchen . bedroom
My favorite was a house with bathroom, kitchen and bedroom overgrown by plants

A visit to a wine cellar in Vouvray and dinner at a fine restaurant in Tours concluded the day.


After visiting a local potter, we toured the Chateau of Chinon which has been extensively restored since our visit 50 years ago
Chinon The castle from across the Loire River

The Tours III group at Chinon (with a few other visitors)
Tours III . Tours III

Tours III . Tours III

Entrance tower . Entrance tower Entrance to the castle

walls . walls . Keep
The three parts of the castle are surrounded by massive walls, with a high Keep in the last bastion

royal quarters . Royal quarters . great hall
The royal quarters have been partly restored, with audiovisual exhibits telling the history of the castle

Loire from Chinon . View of Loire

Village of Chinon . Village of Chinon
The castle dominates the village of Chinon, now accessible by an elevator


In the afternoon we visited the Chateau of Saché, where Honoré de Balzac wrote some of his books, now a Balzac museum
Saché . Saché


The next morning we traveled south 3 hours by bus to visit Nohant, the residence of 19th century author and feminist George Sand. It remained in the family until 1961, and has been preserved largely as it was in the author's time, with such innovations as central heating installed in 1850. The visit made the person as well as the author more real and accessible.
Nohant . Nohant gardens . Nohant gardens


Our last visit was to the Prieuré Notre-Dame d'Orsan, where the gardens have been restored as they were in medieval times
Carré des blés . Le Cloître des Charmilles . Fountain
Le Carré des blés (wheat); Le Cloître des Charmilles with grape vines and fountain

grape vines . Le Verger des Pommiers . apple tree
Grape vines, and Le Verger des Pommiers (apple tree orchard)

Le Potager . Le Potager . Le Potager
Le Potager (vegetable garden)

garden . Le Potager through a hedge . Le Potager surélevé
other gardens, including Le Potager surélevé (raised vegetable garden)

La Pergola . La Pergola - olive tree . La Pergola . garden
La Pergola

Les Petits Fruits - rasberries . Les Simples - medicinal plants
Les petits fruits (small fruits) and Les Simples (medicinal plants)

roses . bluet


The countryside dotted with villages and woods was mostly covered in wheat fields, with rapeseed and sunflowers just coming up. One field was orange with poppies.
wheat field . poppies

There were also the beginnings of renewable energy