The historical capital of Bourbonnais and the prefecture of the department of Allier, the town of Art and History of Moulins offers lovers of architectural and cultural heritage a beautiful legacy, a reminder of its glorious past as the former duchy of the Bourbon family.
There are many attractions to discover: the Cathedral of Our Lady, with its splendid triptych by the Master of Moulins, depicting the coronation of the Virgin, and its superb stained glass windows from the 15th and 16th centuries; the keep of Mal Coiffée, a relic of the old ducal castle; the 15th-century belfry, topped with a bell-striker; the old houses of the historic centre, some of which are adorned with timber frames; the Renaissance house of Anne de Beaujeu dating from the 15th and 16th centuries... A relic of the ducal palace, the latter is home to the Anne de Beaujeu Museum, famous for its remarkable collections of archaeology, medieval sculptures, Flemish, German and Austrian paintings, and academic paintings from the 19th century.
Other sites to visit include the Bourbonnais Museum, with its local history collections, costumes and jobs of yesteryear; the National Stage Costume Centre, based in the building of an old cavalry regiment, containing no fewer than 9,000 costumes, accessories and stage sets!
A city set on the banks of the Allier, the mills gave their name to this city 1000 years ago... Center of power in the time of the Bourbons, Moulins has kept this role of capital. Nowadays, the capital of the department of the Revolution, the city is today a political, administrative and agricultural center, proud of its rich heritage.
As early as the fourteenth century, the Dukes of Bourbon had privileged Moulins to settle there their residence and the organs of their government. At the end of the 15th century, with Pierre II and Anne de Beaujeu, Moulins knew its apogee. The castle is enlarged. Anne adds a royal wing in the Italian style, the first Renaissance building built in France and now a museum. A collegiate church of flamboyant Gothic style is erected. A brilliant and cosmopolitan court brings together musicians, poets and painters.
Of this long itinerary, where the Dukes of Bourbon are present in filigree, Moulins has preserved this rare charm that only the patina of time and History can offer, as privilege. The traces of this past are still numerous in Moulins.
From far away in the round, the towers of his cathedral always seem to cross the time and the sky.
Nearby, as if to salute this complicity with the passing days, the Jacquemart automatons, a symbol of the city's freedoms, punctuate the hours, over the centuries.
The cathedral, composed of a nave and two towers, built in the nineteenth century, as an enormous case, contains a real masterpiece of a very rare beauty: the Triptych of the "Master of Moulins". This masterpiece was painted about 1500 at the request of Peter II and Anne de Beaujeu. Its author has not been identified with certainty. The two donors are presented to the Virgin and to Christ. The brilliance of the colors and the grace of the characters make this painting on wood one of the great masterpieces of Gothic painting in France.
In 1755, a fire broke out at the Chateau des Bourbon. All that remains today is this imposing donjon with flat roof, the now famous "Mal coiffée".
Numerous private mansions with their pink brick front losangées of black bricks create a peaceful atmosphere that emphasizes the wide shaded courtyards sung by Theodore de Banville, poet of Moulin. In the chapel of the Lycee Banville, the oldest in France, lies the Duke of Montmorency in his Mausoleum.
But if Moulins is respectful of its traditions and proud of its past, it is also a modern city, animated by a dynamic policy of sports equipment, collective and renovation of entire districts like "Les Mariniers".
Moulins has understood that between the past and the future passes a precious moment: the Present.