18 June 2008

The cathedral at Bourges

-La Cathédrale de Bourges

Bourges is a small city about two hours east of Saint-Aignan. We drove over there yesterday to see the city's cathedral, one of the most remarkable in France. Many people know the cathedrals at Chartres, Reims, Rouen, and of course Paris, but the one at Bourges is just as impressive. Besides, it is surrounded by an amazingly intact Medieval quarter full of old half-timbered houses.

The people in this picture give you an idea of the scale of this enormous cathedral.

In fact, the Bourges cathedral is the widest and one of the tallest in France. It was built over a period of 65 years, from 1195 to 1260, replacing an even earlier cathedral in Bourges that had been judged too small. The north tower is 65 meters high — that's 213 feet. It collapsed in the early 1500s and was rebuilt.

The cathedral has five entrance portals, which are being cleaned
at present. Two were hidden by scaffolding and tarpolins.

We left Saint-Aignan at about 10:00 yesterday morning and decided to take the autoroute over to Bourges. But the autoroute was closed at Romorantin for some reason, so just 20 minutes after getting on we were shunted off, and we ended up driving small roads through places named St-Julien, Graçay, and La Ferté. It was much more interesting than riding on the high-speed toll road. After some stops to take pictures, we finally arrived in Bourges at about 12:30. It was raining when we got there but the shower didn't last long.

A close-up of one of the portals

I found a parking space on a street less than a block from the cathredral. The parking meter was broken, so instead of the usual parking receipt, I just put a little note in my window saying Horodateur en dérangement. I didn't get a ticket. We ate lunch in a nearby restaurant (foie de veau, calf's liver, very good) and then spent an hour or two walking around the cathedral, taking pictures of flowers in the Archbishop's Garden, and touring the inside to look at the architectural features and all the stained-glass windows.

The gardens next to the cathedral, with
the archbishop's residence in the background.

It took us about three hours, with photo stops, to drive back to Saint-Aignan through St-Florent, Charost, Issoudun, Vatan, and Valençay. It's beautiful country with many little towns, churches, and châteaux.ý


  1. Bourges is almost exactly the geographical centre of France I believe, and the Natural History Museum there is doing some very interesting research into bats.

  2. Ohhhhh :)))) I hooped with excitement when I saw the topic for today's post... I'm right in the middle of submitting a big unit on Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals (for a technology-based certification at my school), so that's all I've been thinking about... and then, up pops Bourges! I've never been, and I'd love to see it in person. May I use some of your photos in my project?

    It was Aimee who sparked my interest in Romanesque and Gothic, you know! We were at the Monuments museum in Paris together, and she explained to me the major differences in the two styles, and that sparked off 25+ years of my love of this topic.

    Have you ever seen the PBS video based on David McCaulay's book, CATHEDRAL?


  3. Hi Judy, I'd be happy for you to use some of my photos. I'll be posting more over the next few days, mostly ones I took inside the cathedral (including some stained glass). K.

  4. i'm stunned, never heard of this cathedral, can't believe how large old and beautemous it is, and also, as s and s point out, in the very center of france. where'd the frenchies get the grisbi to build such an enormous place? i'm looking in my larousse gastro and they have a very short entry of eats of the berry -- but including chicken in its own blood, various potato pancakes, and other interesting food.
    i'll never understand the french.
    is there any book you can recommend about the berry, fact or fiction, that will explain anything about it to me?
    thanks again, this is the most beautiful place.

  5. PJ, two words for you on the question of info. about the Berry: George Sand.


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