Experience the Loire Valley Home Page

Bourges in the Loire Valley

Bourges, located at the confluence of the river Yèvre and the Auron, became the capital of the historic region of Berry during  the Middle Ages. Today, due to reorganisation, it is the capital of the département of Cher. Although not quite within the Loire Valley it retains a strong historical connection. It is a university town and is renowned for its spring festival of music and dance. Depending on what your travel plans are it is probably worth the detour to explore this hidden away French town.

It owes its economic and cultural heritage to its former dukes but especially to Jacques Coeur, financier and foreign minister to Charles VII. Coeur was one of the greatest traders of the Middle Ages, a self-made man and a patron of the arts. He was also an arms dealer, a tradition the city maintains today as the centre of the French armaments industry. You can visit his impressive mansion.


The towns main attraction, the magnificent  cathedral St-Etienne, built around 1200-1260, is the widest Gothic cathedral in France and the one most similar to Paris's Notre Dame. The west façade (55m wide) is flanked by two massive towers, has a pretty rose window, and has five sculpted portals, the central one depicting the Last Judgment.




Outside you can take a walk in its beautiful flower garden.




Most parking in the historic centre is metered. However, there are large free car parks just outside the centre if you're prepared to take a five minute walk.







The historic centre is small enough to walk around  and its definitely the best way to see it.






Les Marais, the marshlands, to the north of the town, is an area of allotment gardens divided by canals.  It would take 2-3 hours to walk all the canals but it is worth the trouble to seek them out just to catch a glimpse of them and take in the excellent views of the cathedral. Go at a weekend and you'll probably see some of the gardeners punting through the canals to their plots.


Music Festivals

Les Printemps de Bourges is an annual musical festival which  features a variety of music genres, (around a hundred concerts in bars and restaurants) and lasts for one week during the French Easter holidays.

There is also the Festival Synthèse, an electronic and acoustic music extravaganza during the first week of June and Un Été à Bourges, late June to late September, a line-up of free, outdoor performances of everything from jazz to organ music.


Every Sunday evening in the park next to the Cathedral,  you'll find a band playing a selection of French dance music from the 30’s and 40’s for the locals to get together and dance the night away --quite charming. This is one of the few things that happen here on a Sunday!


The town has a good indoor and outdoor municipal pool.

 Bourges lies almost exactly in the geographical centre of France but just 36 kilometres away is the village of Bruère Allichamps which claims to be the exact centre and to prove it the local authorities have very kindly put up a monument and a sign!

Directions and time to Bourges



To get directions and time to Bourges, type in your post code or your starting point,  i.e.: 'Paris'






External links: