While Bourges may not be the most exciting of towns in France, the town is home to one of France's most significant cathedrals.
The cathedral has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1992 and is famous for the simplicty of its design and, like the cathedral at Chartres, its 12th and 13th century stained glass windows.
What to see
The cathedral was built in the 12th century and is to be considered to be one of the great examples of Gothic architecture. It stands across three layers with huge main hall.
The cathedral, also known as the Cathedrale Saint-Etienne de Bourges, is best visited in the spring or the summer because the cathedral is set inside a beautiful park.
The stained glass windows, like Chartres Cathedral, date from the 13th century. On a sunny day, the light that filters through these windows give the cathedral an almost ethereal feel.
The church is home to an astronomical clock with a clock face which illustrates the signs of the zodiac painted by Jean d'Orleans.
It is possible to visit the the ancient crypt beneath the current church. In the crypt is a number of the original sculptures and carvings, including an interesting sculpture of the heads of sinners in the cauldron of hell and an ancient depiction of the burial of Jesus. Visits to the crypt are only available in French. However, if you do not speak French, it is worth the price of the ticket to get entry into the crypt and a pamphlet outlining the main features of the crypt is provided in English.
You can also buy a ticket at the same time as the one for the crypt that allows you to climb the 400 steps to the top of the cathedral tower for a stunning view over the city and surrounding countryside. The cathedral is on the highest hill in the region and on a good day the view across the countryside is superb.
Things to do
How to get there
Trains for Bourges leave from Paris Austerlitz.
The trip takes around 2 hours to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the routing and should cost around 35 Euro.
There is a reasonable walk from the train station to the cathedral through to town.
Exit through the front of the station and head straight down Avenue Henri Laudier. At the roundabout head straight through to Avenue Jean Jaures. Avenue Jean Jaures turns into Place Henri Mirpied. Take a slight left into Rue du Commerce which turns into Rue Moyenne. The cathedral is on the left at the top of the hill (turn left at the Tourism Office).
Approximate Distance from Paris: 215km/133mi
Time to get there: about 2 hours on the train and 20 minutes
Transport Method: Train (Intercities) from Paris Austerlitz (some
from Paris Bercy)
Approximate Price: About 35 Euro per person each way
Worth: 2 hours
(A version available in English)