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Coordinates: 47°05′04″N 2°23′47″E / 47.0844444444°N 2.39638888889°E / 47.0844444444; 2.39638888889

Commune of Bourges

Saint-Étienne de Bourges
Bourges is located in France
Country France
Region Centre
Department Cher
Arrondissement Bourges
Intercommunality Bourges
Mayor Serge Lepeltier
Elevation 120–169 m (390–550 ft)
(avg. 153 m/500 ft)
Land area1 68.74 km2 (26.54 sq mi)
Population2 72,480  (1999)
 - Density 1,054 /km2 (2,730 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 18033/ 18000
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Bourges is a commune in central France on the Yèvre river. It is the capital of the department of Cher and also was the capital of the former province of Berry.



The name of the city is either derived from the Bituriges, the name of the original inhabitants, or from the Germanic Burg (French: Bourg. Spanish: Burgos. English, others: Burgh, Berg, or Borough), for "hill/village". Its Celtic name was Avaricon. In the Gallic Wars, the Gauls practiced a scorched-earth policy, but the inhabitants of Avaricon begged not to have their city burned, and it was spared due to its good defenses provided by the surrounding marshes and a strong southern wall.

The third century Saint Ursinus, also known as Saint Ursin, is considered the first bishop of the city. Currently, Bourges is the seat of an archbishopric.

The Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne, begun at the end of the twelfth century, is listed as a World Heritage Site. It is considered the earliest example of the high gothic style of the thirteenth century.

During the Middle Ages, Bourges was the capital of a Viscounty until the fourteenth century. The future king, Charles VII, sought refuge there. His son, Louis XI, was born there in 1423. In 1438, Charles decreed the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. During this period, Bourges was also a major capital of alchemy.

The city has a long tradition of art and history, other sites of importance include the Palace of Jacques Cœur and a sixty-five-hectare district of timber houses and grande homes.

The Impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot, was born in Bourges on 14 January 1841.

Main sights

Floorplan of the cathedral of Bourges

Colleges and universities

International relations


Twin towns — sister cities

Bourges is twinned with:

Half-timbered houses in Place Gordaine


Flag of Bourges

The Printemps de Bourges music festival takes place in Bourges every year.

See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Bourges is a city in Centre region, France.

St Etienne Cathedral at Bourges
St Etienne Cathedral at Bourges

Get in

Bourges is accessible by train from Paris Austerlitz in about 1 hour 45 minutes, or on the A71 motorway from Paris via Orleans.

Get around

Most parking in the historic centre is metered. However, there are large free car parks just outside the centre if you're prepared to make a five minute walk. The historic centre is small enough to walk around, and that's definitely the best way to see it.


The cathedral of St Etienne, a UNESCO heritage site, dates from about 1200-1255. It's an exceptionally fine and most original work of French Gothic, with double aisles and an immensely high nave. It has preserved almost all the original stained glass of its ambulatory, and some of the high windows of the choir. There are also some lovely later windows in the side chapels. The crypt and towers can be visited for an extra charge.

The Palais de Jacques Coeur was built from 1443-1450 by Jacques Coeur, the richest man in France and banker to Charles VII. It's a flamboyant work, highly decorated and punctuated by stair turrets and towers just like the castles in the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry - another Bourges inhabitant. The interior can only be visited on a guided tour, for which a charge is made.

The Marais, to the north of the historic centre, is an area of allotment gardens divided by canals. A walk all the way round will take you 2-3 hours and give you 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.

The whole city is full of lovely houses, some in half timber, others in the light stone that is characteristic of Bourges. Rue Bourbonnoux and Rue Coursalon are particularly worth visiting.

Palais des Echevins / Musee Esteve is another medieval mansion which borrows its vocabulary from the Palais Jacques Coeur, built 40 years earlier.

Musee de Berry - a free museum of local traditions, in another medieval mansion.

Musee des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France - this museum, opposite the cathedral, displays works of craftsmanship which have been made for the MOF diploma. Currently (Jan 2007) it has a display of fine hand-made knives in the exhibition room. Free entry, and worth a look.


Take a boat trip round the Marais.

You can go to the 'Plan d'eau' which is an artificial lake to have a 6km-walk. It's also possible to use your bicycle or rollers around it on a lane separated from the road - it's relatively flat.

In april, there is a music festival called 'Le Printemps de Bourges' where, during around 1 week, around 30 "official" concerts (prices varies) are given in the city (in several places, sometimes at the same time). The programme may be fetched in early March. During this period, most of the pubs and bars also have bands playing (for free) and the whole city gets a lot of animation.


Most shops are located in the centre of the town localized by rue Moyenne.

One of the specialties of Bourges is the Forestines which is a kind of candy. You can find such in the 'Maison de la Forestine' (located rue Moyenne).


Warning! Almost everything is closed on Sunday, though you will find a couple of pizza restaurants in Place Gordaine.

Place Gordaine and the area by the market has cheap shawarma, couscous, and a number of French restaurants. More chi-chi places and a fine Breton creperie can be found on Rue Bourbonnoux.


A fine chambre d'hotes is 'Les Bonnets Rouges', not far from the cathedral and just off rue Bourbonnoux.

If you are arriving by car, some cheap hotels are located by the highway entrance.

A hotel 3* located in the historical center is 'Hotel d'Angleterre', at around 100m from the rue Moyenne.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BOURGES, a city of central France, chief town of the department of Cher, 144 m. S. of Paris on the Orleans railway between Vierzon and Nevers. Pop. (1906) town, 34,581; commune, 44, 1 33 Bourges is built amidst flat and marshy country on an eminence limited on three sides by the waters of the Canal of Berry, the Yevre, the Auron, and other smaller streams with which they unite at this point. The older part of the town with its narrow streets and old houses forms a centre, to the south and east of which lie important engineering suburbs. Flourishing nurseries and market-gardens are situated in the marshy ground to the north and north-east. Bourges preserves portions of the Roman ramparts of the 4th century, which are for the most part built into the houses of the old quarter. They measure considerably less in circumference than the fortifications of the 13th century, remains of which in the shape of ruined walls and towers are still to be seen. The summit of the rise on which the city is built is crowned by the cathedral of St Etienne, one of the most important in France. Begun at the end of the 12th century, it was not completed till the 16th century, to which period belong the northernmost of the two unfinished towers flanking the façade and two of its five elaborately sculptured portals. The interior, which has double aisles, the inner aisles of remarkable height, and no transepts, contains, among many other works of art, magnificent stained glass of the 13th century. Beneath the choir there is a crypt of Romanesque construction, where traces of the Roman fosses are to be found; the two lateral portals are also survivals of a Romanesque church. The Jardin de l'Archeveche, a pleasant terrace-garden, adjoins the choir of the cathedral. Bourges has many fine old houses. The hotel Lallemant and the hotel Cujas (now occupied by the museum) are of the Renaissance period. The hotel de Jacques Cceur, named after the treasurer of Charles VII. and now used as the law-court, is of still greater interest, though it has been doubted whether Jacques Coeur himself inhabited it. The mansion is in the Renaissance style, but two towers of the Roman fortifications were utilized in the construction of the southwestern facade (see HousE, Plate II. figs. 7 and 8). Its wings surround a courtyard into which three staircase turrets project; one of these leads to a chapel, the ceiling of which is decorated by fine frescoes.

Bourges is the seat of an archbishopric, a court of appeal, a court of assizes and a prefect; and is the headquarters of the VIII. army corps. It has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade-arbitrators, and a chamber of commerce, and a branch of the Bank of France. Its educational institutions include an ecclesiastical seminary, a lycee for boys, and a college for girls, training colleges, and a school of industrial art. The industrial activity of Bourges depends primarily on its gunpowder and ammunition factories, its cannon-foundry and gun-carriage works. These all belong to the government, and, together with huge magazines, a school of pyrotechnics, and an artillery school, lie in the east of the town. The suburb of Mazieres has large iron and engineering works, and there are manufactories of anvils, edge-tools, biscuits, woollen goods, oil-cloth, boots and shoes, fertilizers, brick and tile works, breweries, distilleries, tanneries, saw-mills and dye-works. The town has a port on the canal of Berry, and does a considerable trade in grain, wine, vegetables, hemp and fruit.

Bourges occupies the site of the Gallic town of Avaricum, capital of the Bituriges, mentioned by Caesar as one of the most important of all Gaul. In 52 B.C., during the war with Vercingetorix, it was completely destroyed by the Roman conqueror, but under Augustus it rose again into importance, and was made the capital of Aquitania Prima. About A.D. 250 it became the seat of a bishop, the first occupant of the see being Ursinus. Captured by the Visigoths about 475, it continued in their possession till about 507. In the middle ages it was the capital of Berry. During the English occupation of France in the 15th century it became the residence of Charles VII., who thus acquired the popular title of "king of Bourges." In 1463 a university was founded in the city by Louis XI., which continued for centuries to be one of the most famous in France, especially in the department of jurisprudence. On many occasions Bourges was the seat of ecclesiastical councils - the most important being the council of 1438, in which the Pragmatic Sanction of the Gallican church was established, and that of 1528, in which the Lutheran doctrines were condemned.

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