It is the Capital of Berry and it is now classified as a City of Art and History. Bourges has a magnificent historic city center to discover on foot or by bicycle. Located 2 hours from Paris, between Châteauroux and Sancerre, Bourges can be visited in a day or a weekend. Famous for its music festival “Le Printemps de Bourges”, its cathedral, its old streets with pretty half-timbered houses, and the Jacques Coeur palace… this city has everything to please and invites you to a real journey through time, from the Gallo-Roman era to today.
Take advantage of your trip to Bourges to visit Berry and the vineyards of the Loire Valley center where the climate is the most continental in the Loire Valley. You can indeed take a tour in the Loire Valley by bike, visit www.touraineloirevalley.co.uk/ and learn more about Loire cycling tours. While cycling along the Loire, you will meet the winegrowers of the region who will let you know the secret of the Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé appellations.
Saint-Etienne de Bourges Cathedral
The most famous and impressive monument in the city, which welcomes more than 600,000 visitors every year, Saint-Etienne de Bourges Cathedral was built between the 12th and 13th centuries and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992. A true masterpiece of Gothic art, this cathedral is composed of beautiful engravings on the outside, magnificent stained glass windows and vaults over 40 meters high on the inside. You can also climb 396 steps to reach the top of its tower and discover a magnificent panorama of the city, the marshes and the lake of Auron. Don’t miss out on a visit to the crypt and the astronomical clock.
Jacque Coeur Palace
The Jacques Coeur Palace is another essential monument in Bourges. In the Middle Ages, Jacques Coeur, the great silversmith of King Charles VII, a native of Bourges, began building this magnificent palace. It is a very good example of Gothic architecture that prefigures Renaissance mansions. Inside, you will discover many sculpted friezes and decorations, an impressive overturned boat hull frame, a magnificent chapel, a large ceremonial room with a monumental fireplace, splendid stained glass windows, spiral staircases and Jacques’ famous motto “À valillant coeur, rien d’impossible”.
Old Town of Bourges
Stroll through the city center of Bourges and discover more than 400 half-timbered houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries and testifying to the medieval history of the city. Stop at Gordaine Square, which has many bars and restaurants.
From July to September, at nightfall, we recommend the “Nuits lumières” route. This 2.5 km long route features the facades of the old town of Bourges, alternating between sound and light.
Parks and Gardens
Adjacent to the cathedral of Bourges, the Archbishopric’s garden, designed in the 17th century, shelters sumptuous massifs and magnificent trees. Very flowery and taking up the codes of the French garden, it combines games for children, a carousel and a century-old music stand.
Another sumptuous garden to discover, in the Art Deco style, is Près Fichaux, also located in the heart of the city of Bourges. Labelled “Remarkable Garden”, this garden includes multiple plant sculptures, rectilinear lawns, massifs, ponds…
The city of Bourges has a large number of interesting museums. The Musée du Berry, located in a former private mansion, is dedicated to local history and fine arts. The Museum of Decorative Arts is also located in a private mansion, the Lallemant mansion, dating from the 15th century and in Gothic style. It hosts exhibitions of very high quality. The Estève Museum brings together the major works of the eponymous painter in the Hôtel des Échevins. The Museum of the Best Workers of France is a unique museum in France that presents French excellence in the former episcopal palace. Finally, the Natural History Museum presents 15,000 specimens and collections and hosts prestigious exhibitions throughout the year.
The marshes of Bourges
When you visit Bourges, don’t miss the visit of the marshes, a real haven of greenery just a stone’s throw from the city centre. Now classified and protected, these former swamps have become vegetable gardens maintained by many passionate berry growers.
They cover 135 hectares and you can visit them on foot or by bike. During the Marsh Festival, on the first weekend of September, it is also possible to rent a decorated boat to stroll through the maze of canals.