Top Places to Visit In Bourges, France
Nestled in the center or "Heart of France" is Bourges, a small town with a lot of love. Well off the beaten path, Bourges is not a likely destination for foreign visitors, which means is that if go there you'll see a side of the French people that aren't stressed out like Parisians. If it is charm and hospitality you're after, than Bourges should be apart of your France vacation.
In the center ofBourges is a lush, green area called the marais that is set aside for locals to cultivate their own gardens. Canals wind throughout the area so that they can move around in their small wooden boats. The garden is so large that Bourges was named one of France's "Greenest City." They have taken this to heart by playing host for several festivals in the spring and summer times. "Springtime in Bourges," a "Summer in Bourges," and the "International Ecological Film Festival" are all popular international attractions.
Bourges has also taken the lead in becoming France's most environmentally friendly city. They are striving to have the entire town's core, vehicle-free. Needless to say that already most of the streets in the town's core are for pedestrians only.
If you happen to be there during the month of May, they are having their annual "Night-Lights of Bourges" festival. So every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights the town is lit up. Throughout the town you will see projected images of renaissance characters superimposed on the walls of buildings and on the streets.
Bourges has a busy walled market that is open only once a week. So if you are fortunate to be there when it's open take advantage and browse the discount clothing, jewelry, trinkets and food. If it's shopping you're after, Bourges has everything in walking distance from its main pedestrian road, rue Mirbeau. The great thing about Bourges is that it's not a long walk between its main points of interest. This will come to some relief for those who have been to Paris and have had to use their subway systems.
The thing I like most about Bourges is its history. Perhaps the most famous Bourgesois (at least in his days) was Jacques Cœur. Renowned for being a big businessman of his day, he operated his merchant company out of Bourges. He became so wealthy that the King of France grew envious of his wealth and managed to seize all of his funds to finance a war. His palace still remains and accepts tours several times a day.
Something you will not be able to resist is visiting the Saint-Etienne cathedral. Standing as the largest structure in Bourges its size is second only to Paris' Nôtre-Dame cathedral. The massive cathedral contains some of France's best stained-glass windows. Each one tells a story from the Bible, so see if you can recognize all of them. If they are letting visitors go to the roof, take advantage of that once in a lifetime opportunity and see Bourges in Panorama. It may be windy up there so be sure to hang onto your hat! If you are not blocking the way going up the winding staircase (the stairs are very narrow) take the time to read some of the graffiti on the walls, some of them are over three-hundred years old.
If you're into medieval castles, Bourges is the place to see them. Rent a car and visit the sites where Joan of Arc commanded the French armies. Bourges served as the capital of France during the "Hundred Years War," and the castles that were built to stop the British from advancing are magnificent. If the gore aspect of visiting castles is not appealing than go see the gardens that surround them, they seem to have spared no expense in sprucing them up for visitors.
Pictures courtesy of the City of Bourges