Bourges is the capital of Cher, in the Center-Loire Valley region.
It was the capital of the province of Berry, before the Revolution, which corresponded to the departments of Indre and Cher.
The city has a population of just over 68,000, and nearly 100,000 with its metropolitan area.
Surrounded by marshes, located south of the Loire on an axis conducive to exchanges, the city developed under the Romans and built a wall in the 4th century.
In the Middle Ages, its bishops were primates of Aquitaine, which made it an important religious center. Attached to the kingdom in 1100, its defenses are reinforced against the Plantagenet.
St. Stephen's Cathedral was built in 1195, and in the 14th century the Duchy of Berry was erected as an appanage (part of the royal domain which the monarch assigns to his younger sons or brothers). Bourges knows its golden age: Jean de France, brother of Charles V, turns out to be a patron and an esthete who builds a palace, and attracts architects and artists. It was thus that Jacques Coeur, the king's financier, established himself at Bourges and laid the foundations for his fruitful commerce.
Then, under Louis XI, a university was created.
Catastrophe in 1487: a fire ravages two-thirds of the city. However, many half-timbered houses will be rebuilt. However, Bourges is gradually losing its position as a stronghold of the kingdom. Its rise resumed in the 19th century with the construction of the Canal du Berry and the arrival of the railway. Industries are established (foundries, armament). The city still extends into the 20th century, while preserving its heritage which now makes it a culturally attractive city and a high place of tourism.
Labeled City of Art and History, Bourges deserves first a visit of its main assets heritage in the heart of the city.
Starting with the Saint-Étienne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A masterpiece of Gothic art, it is characterized by the absence of a transept, a pyramidal composition and a double flight of flying buttresses to give a true verticality to the interior space. Splendid stained glass windows from the 13th century on three floors, at the level of the choir, constitute a true illustrated catechism. The lateral chapels, the crypt and its tombs, and the north tower, from which a remarkable panorama of the city is accessible, are also visited. Information on +33 2 48 23 02 60.
The route continues ideally by the palace Jacques-Cœur (mid-fifteenth), also in Gothic style, whose oriental façade is richly ornamented. As for its interior decoration, it is the illustration of the success of this rich servant of the State, who nevertheless did not inhabit the place. Price: 7,50 and 6 euros. Free on the first Sunday of the month of November to May and for the under 18 years. Information on +33 2 48 24 79 42.
After these two major buildings, a walk in the center of the city will make it possible to observe more than 400 half-timbered houses (usually with a shop on the ground floor), the ramparts (with Gallo- Romans), Place Gordaine (where the market once stood, hence decorations in the shape of fruits on the facades).
A passage through the neighborhood of the former marshes and the Saint-Pierre district (with the Jacques-Cœur house not to be confused with the palace) must be on the program as well.
Bourges also has many museums.
There is thus the museum of decorative arts in a former mansion of the sixteenth century, the astonishing museum of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France in the former palace of the archbishop, the Berry museum, the Estève museum (20th century painter) In the former hotel of the aldermen, or the museum of natural history.
The museum of the Resistance, the museum of the military equipment and the Train and the military crews are also to visit for the amateurs of history.
But Bourges is also a green city with a rich natural heritage.
We think of the 35 hectares of gardens that dot the marsh district (now drained since the creation of canals) or Lake Val d'Auron, green lung of the city, and conducive to many sporting activities (jogging, sports Ball, sailing, canoeing).
The Pélargonium conservatory (900 different species), the Jardin des Prés-Fichaux (art deco style) and the garden of the archbishop's palace (designed by a pupil of Le Nôtre in the 17th century) will be refreshing stages.
Finally, an itinerary of remarkable trees has been laid out. Time: 1 hour by bike, 1h30 by foot.
For information about thematic or guided tours of the city and museums, please call +33 2 48 23 02 60.
Organized for a week in mid-April, the Spring of Bourges has contributed greatly to the renown of the city to new audiences since 1977. International music festival opening the season of rock and contemporary music festivals (rap, reggae, World music...), all the stars pass or have passed, but the Spring also leaves the young talents hatch. Information on +33 2 48 27 28 29.
In May and June, the International Art Fair presents exhibitions of young local artists or renowned guests at the Château d'Eau.
From June to September, in the evening, the Light Nights showcase the remarkable buildings of Bourges (sound and light projections).
From mid-June to mid-July, the Jacques Cœur fairs bring together more than 80 fairground attractions.
From June 21 to September 21, a Summer in Bourges offers free classical music concerts in or in front of the city's major buildings.
In October, BulleBerry is a festival devoted to comics which includes exhibitions of boards in various historical sites.
In December and January, the museum of natural history welcomes part of the 80 photos selected in the "Wildlife photographer of the year" contest.