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Bourges France Loire Valley Bourges

Bourges France

Bourges is slightly off the beaten trail of Loire Valley attractions, but the town has played an important part in French history and is worth a mention for its cathedral, medieval quarter, and Jacques Coeur who was Charles VII's financial advisor. Charles VII retreated to Bourges after losing to Henri V at Agincourt, and he married Marie d'Anjou at Bourges cathedral in 1422. However, in spite of Charles' nickname of "King of Bourges" (concocted by the cruel English), it is really Jacques Coeur who reigns here. In fact, Coeur is to Bourges what Jeanne d'Arc is to Orléans.

The Palais de Jacques Coeur on rue Jacques Coeur is a surprisingly modern house, incorporating an early steam room, and preempts French Renaissance trends in architecture. There isn't much furniture in the house but there are plenty of decorative motifs to catch the eye.


Bourges

With all its grand bourgeois buildings, Bourges was trying to rival Dijon, another important provincial city at the time. The centrepiece of Bourges is the splendid Gothic Cathédrale St Étienne, which is based on an improved design for the Cathédrale Notre Dame in Paris. One of the best things about it are the beautifully rich colours of the stained glass around the choir, made in 1215 1225. For + €5 you can get a guided tour of the crypt and free licence to climb up the tower. The old quarter is to the east of the main rue Moyenne, and the best museums are to the north of the rue Moyenne.

Another attraction at Bourges is the hectic schedule of festivals, such as the week long Les Printemps de Bourges during the Easter holidays (a variety of contemporary music) and the July through to September timetable of concerts for the Un Été à Bourges series (all kinds of music).

For a hotel in the old town you could try Les Bonnets Rouges at 3 rue de la Thaumassière (02 48 65 79 92), a 17th century house with rooms from €55 75. A cheaper option is Le Central at 6 rue du Docteur Témoin (02 48 24 10 25) which has small rooms above a bar for under €40. You might be tempted to head to place Gordaine for food, which has a good reputation for pizza, but for something classier go to the rue Bourbonnoux. At number 44, for example, the Bourbonnoux (02 48 24 14 76) has regional menus from €15 30. If you just want to get your teeth into a great steak, Le Louis XI at 11 rue Porte Jaune (02 48 70 92 14) serves that and other meat dishes for €15 up to €30.