In the Garden of France is also the Garden of Letters, where the “purest French” is spoken. This is the birthplace of both the Kingdom of France and the French language. Among a host of poets and writers are Rabelais and his immense Gargantua. At the Priory of Saint Cosme, near Tours, Ronsard, the prince of poets, wrote his finest verse, “Darling, let’s see if the rose…”
Academician Néricault, known as Destouches, was made famous by maxims such as “the absent are always wrong” or “what’s bred in the bone, will come out in the flesh”. Balzac, Author of “The Human Comedy” would write about his dear Touraine: “Giving up would be the death of me”. Anatole France and Georges Courteline met each other in Tours in the 19th century. Closer to home, the philosopher Henri Bergson, the sculptor and painter Alexander Calder and the writer Jules Romain had adopted Touraine as their homeland.
The Loire was an extraordinary source of inspiration for two painters: William Turner in the 19th century and Olivier Debré in the last century, some of whose works will soon be welcomed to the new Olivier Debré Centre of Contemporary Art.