The area around the cathedral and the historic center of the city have retained many medieval buildings. Among these, the most notable are : the tithe barn from the 13th century and the Palais Jacques Coeur. The gardens of the Archbishop and the Gallo-Roman ramparts are also worth a visit.
Around the cathedral
Gardens of the Archbishop
Place de la cathédrale, 18000 Bourges
The French gardens of the archbishop were installed in the 17th century to adorn the surroundings of the palace of the archbishops (now City Hall). A pleasant and shady garden, it has a 100-year old bandstand and a playground for children. This is a nice place to walk or rest after visiting the cathedral.
The Tithe Barn
Place de la cathédrale, 18000 Bourges
On the north side of the cathedral, next to the rampart path. Cannot be visited.
The Tithe Barn or is a magnificent achievement of the 13th century. As its name implies, it was used to receive the royalties received by the religious leaders. This function lasted until the Revolution. Built on two levels, the ground floor was used as a storeroom for wine, while the upstairs served as a warehouse for grain. In the 19th century the building was turned into a barracks before being attached to the new cathedral in 1867.
The Rampart Walk
North side of the cathedral entrance, next to the Tithe Barn.
This walkway allows visitors to jump back 2000 years in history. The path, which is only a few hundred meters long, is lined with towers and parts of the old curtain wall, showcases the base of the former Gallo-Roman walls and the city walls built in the middle of the 4th century. From the 12th century onward, a new defense system was used. The foundations of the Gallo-Roman wall would be used to build the major buildings we know today: the cathedral, the Jacques Coeur Palace, the palace of the archbishops and medieval houses.
The medieval City
Palais Jacques Cœur
10 bis Rue Jacques Cœur, 18000 Bourges
Website - tel : 02 48 24 79 42
Full price / reduced price : €8 / €6.50. For free for EU citizens under 26 years old (free for non-EU citizens under 18.)
Combined ticket Palais Jacques Coeur + tower and crypt of the cathedral of Bourges : full price / reduced price: €12 / €9. For free for EU citizens under 26 years old (free for non-EU citizens under 18.)
October through March : 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
April and September : 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
May and June: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
July and August : 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
Guided tour in several languages is possible. Information available at the Tourist Office
This magnificent palace was built from 1443 to 1451 on the foundations of the Gallo-Roman wall. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic civil architecture from the 15th century. The building is inspired by the architecture of the aristocratic mansions of Duke Jean de Berry. Its visual architectural organization transitions between a feudal castle and the mansions of the Renaissance. In building this palace, Jacques Coeur (see elsewhere), expressed his (high) social status rather ostentatiously. The facade overlooking the street and the front of the main building are richly decorated, and the interior reflects the power and wealth of its owner, who never even lived here.
Over the following centuries, the buildings served successively as city hall and then as a courthouse in the 19th century. The house was purchased by the state in 1923, and was subsequently restored.
The architecture of the palace is of a rare elegance whose carved decorations are as abundant as they are refined. The facade of the entrance pavilion features the coat of arms of Jacques Coeur and its famous motto : "To a brave heart, nothing is impossible". This motto is reflected in several places in the palace.
Jacques Cœur : merchant, adventurer and financier of the King
Jacques Coeur was born in Bourges in 1400 to a family of wealthy merchants who worked for the Duke of Berry. He quickly became an outstanding entrepreneur. In the 1430s, he developed a trade fleet to travel between France and the East on behalf of King Charles VII, and later became his treasurer in 1438. In 1441 he was knighted. His social ascent was meteoric. He directs the Mint of Paris, a prestigious establishment, which gave him considerable power. In 1451, his mansion barely finished, he faced significant financial problems. Arrested and tried, he narrowly escaped the death sentence thanks to his relations and in particular his friendship with Pope Nicolas V. He took refuge in Rome in 1454 and died of illness two years later during a crusade against the Turks.
The timber-framed houses
The historic center of Bourges is dotted with more than 400 half-timber houses. Though the houses of the richest families were made of stone, and this was not the case for most of the population. The majority of these houses were built after the fire of 1487 that destroyed a third of the city. These relatively narrow, deep and high houses generally had two levels ; the ground floor accommodated shops and first floor the living quarters. You will notice the firewalls that sometimes separate houses. This measure was taken following the fire of 1487. The facades are decorated with gothic sculptures. The timbering is in diamonds or Saint Andrews crosses.
The rue Bourbonnoux was urbanized in the 12th century, and became a major artery of the city, hosting many traders and artisans over the centuries. The past is reflected in its many half-timbered houses that line the street and give it an undeniable charm.
The Place Gordaine, a marketplace since medieval times, welcomed changers, butchers and fishmongers. Bordered by traders’ houses, visitors can still admire the Gothic decorations of the facades.
Access via the Chemin des Prébendes, behind the cathedral.
A veritable green lung of the city, just a 5 minute walk from the cathedral, the Marais features 135 hectares of gardens surrounded by rivers and canals. Possibility of guided walking tours and boat rides organized by the Tourist Office of Bourges in summer.