Tours, with an urban population of 280,000 and a student population of 29,000, is situated less than an hour from Paris by the train à grande vitesse (TGV). Nestled in the heart of the historic Loire Valley, which was recently named one of Unesco's World Heritage Sites, Tours is an important political, economic, and cultural center. The numerous historic renaissance castles in the surrounding area point to Tours' role as capital of France in the 15th and 16th centuries. This architectural heritage, along with Touraine's celebrated vineyards and gastronomic traditions, has made Tours an important tourist destination. While ancient craft traditions such as silk weaving and woodworking have not completely died out, the Tours region boasts a diversified and dynamic economy encompassing agriculture, manufacturing (plastics, electronics, pharmaceuticals) and supported by 12 institutions of higher education and three major research centers.
Tours' cultural heritage and economic dynamism sustain a rich cultural life. Numerous museums, more than 10 cultural festivals, three important regional theaters hosting an opera company and symphony, numerous concert halls for classical, jazz, and rock music, and five cinema complexes provide Bucknell en France students with many cultural opportunities.
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