Bourges is a town in France and used to be the capital of the ancient province of Berry. The town sits on the banks of River Yevre in central France. The top things to do in Bourges revolve around the town’s history, royal mansions, regional culture, and surrounding natural landscapes.
The history of the city dates back to the 4th century BCE. The town grew rich during the Middle Ages owing to its strategic trade location. Many of the popular places to visit in Bourges were built during that period. The mansions of the nobles and royals have been turned into hotels.
Alongside being hotels, they are also included among Bourges attractions for their history and architecture. These feature a variety of architectural styles including Renaissance, Gothic, and Art Deco. These are some of the most beautiful things to see in Bourges.
The mansions turned hotels are also home to museums. These museums showcase the history of the mansion and its residents. You will also find a variety of art, antique, and artifact collections at these Bourges tourist attractions.
However, the biggest historical marvel in the town is the Bourges Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a major highlight of Bourges sightseeing. The church has played a great role in the town’s history and is renowned for its aesthetics. It is also home to a collection of religious artworks and artifacts.
Alongside exploring major historical sites and museums, you should also visit Bourges’ old town area. It still carries the vibe of the medieval town. The area is also a great spot for shopping and trying out local food. Some of the street food joints, bars, and restaurants hold legendary status.
The town is surrounded by amazing natural landscapes. You can explore hiking trails through the surrounding forests and grasslands. These would also take you you farmlands on the outskirts of the town.
However, the majority of outdoor things to do near Bourges revolve around lakes. There are marshlands and lakes where you can go for boating, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and fishing.
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Top 10 Tourist Places to Visit in Bourges, France
1. Bourges Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Bourges)
This Roman Catholic church dates back to the 11th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its history and Gallo-Roman architecture. The church was designed without a break between the nape and the choir. It broke the norm of the time by creating a continuous row of flying buttresses.
Over the years, Gothic and Romanesque features also found their way into the church’s architecture. The painted chapel and stained glass windows bring elegance to the church’s aesthetics. It is one of the most beautiful things to see in Bourges, France.
Just outside the church, you can explore the Bishop’s gardens. These were developed in 1730 for the Archbishop. This rich and colourful French garden is also a great place to admire the church’s exterior. You will need about an hour to explore the Cathedral and the Gardens when you visit Bourges.
2. Hôtel Lallemant – Musée des Arts Décoratifs
This hotel is housed in a 13th-century mansion built by Jean Lallemant. French Renaissance styles heavily influenced the mansion. You will see elegant and artistic elements hailing from the 1400s.
However, the hotel is more popular for its Museum of Decoratives. It is one of the top things to do in Bourges, France if you admire classic artworks. The collection includes sculptures, paintings, antique furniture, scrolls, architectural features, decorative artworks, and more. You will need 30 to 45 minutes from Bourges Travel to tour the hotel and its museum.
3. Hôtel des Echevins – Musée Estève
This Hotel too was developed in an old mansion. It was built after the Great Fire by two sculptors – Jacquet de Persigny and Jacque Gendre. Their exceptional artistry is apparent in the aesthetics of the mansion. It is one of the most amazing Bourges attractions.
The hotel is home to the museum of Maurice Esteve. The 20th-century artist is renowned for his abstract paintings. This museum has the largest collection of his works and also sheds light on the artist’s life. You will need about an hour to tour the hotel and the museum.
4. Palais Jacques Cœur
The palace was built during the 1400s by Jacques Cœur, the finance administrator of King Charles VII. It has served as a residence for many royals and nobles over the ages. The elegantly designed chateau heavily features Gothic architecture with French Renaissance elements.
It is one of the best places to visit in Bourges, France for its history, decor, architecture, and antiques. You will get a glimpse of the lavish lifestyle of the nobility of yesteryears. You will need about an hour to tour this palace.
5. Hôtel Cujas – Musée du Berry
This museum is housed in a beautiful Gothic mansion that now serves as a hotel. The collection includes various artifacts from the city’s history. You will see archeological findings dating back to the 4th century BCE.
You will also see artifacts from the medieval and Renaissance periods. It is also one of the most popular Bourges tourist attractions for the collections of Jean Boucher paintings. You will need about an hour to tour this museum.
6. Jardins des Marais de Bourges
Spread over 135 hectares, these Marshes sit right in the middle of the city. People visit these marshes for outdoor activities to do in Bourges. You can go for hiking, cycling, fishing, and boating. The marshes also have vegetable gardens and restaurants. You can easily spend a couple of hours enjoying the blissful surroundings.
7. Plan d’Eau du Val d’Auron
This man-made lake is popular for fun things to do near Bourges. You can follow the trails around the lake. You can also take a rowboat, canoe, kayak, or sailboat to explore the lake or go fishing. You can easily spend an hour or so enjoying this place.
8. Prés Fichaux Garden (Jardin des Prés Fichaux)
This Art Deco garden dates back to the 1920s. Alongside gorgeous landscaping, the garden also has beautiful sculptures, fountains, and reliefs. If you want to spend some leisurely time during Bourges sightseeing just come here to relax for a while.
9. Musée des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France
Meilleurs Ouvriers de France is a title awarded to exceptional craftsmen. This museum recognizes and celebrates all the recipes of the award. It is home to some of the beautiful things to see in Bourges in terms of artwork and craftsmanship. You will see their works and get to know about their lives as well. You will need 30 to 45 minutes to explore this museum.
10. Bourges Old Town
In 1487, a huge fire burned down a large part of the town. It was rebuilt elegant and beautiful. The old town still retains the quaint charm of the era. The cobbled streets, old stone houses, and small shops create a wonderful vibe. It is one of the best places to visit in Bourges for shopping and dining as well. You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring the old town.
If you are looking for more Bourges attractions, check out the sections below. We have compiled a complete list of activities and sightseeing spots in the town.
Things to do in Bourges, France
Monuments, Museums & Historical Places to Visit in Bourges, France
- Bourges Cathedral
- Palais Jacques Coeur
- Museum d’Histoire Naturelle
- Musee du Berry – Hotel Cajus
- Musee des Arts Decoratifs – Hotel Lallemant
- Musee du Train et des Equipages Militaires
- Maison de Musees
- Musee Esteve – Hotel des Echevis
- Chateau Maubranche
- Presbytery St. Guillaume Parish
- Chateau de Saint Georges
- Chateau de Maubranche
- Chateau de Varye
- Musee de I’Ecole de Bourges
- Musee de la Resistance et de la Deportation
- Abbatiale Saint Martin de Plaimpied
- Chateau de Villemenard
Nature & Wildlife Tourist Spots in Bourges, France
- Jardins des Marais de Bourges
- River Yevre
- Nature 18
- Plan d’Eau du Val d’Auron
- Reserve Naturelle Nationalle des Chaumes du Verniller
Entertainment & Leisure Tourist Spots in Bourges, France
- Le Jardin de I’Archeveche
- Pres Fichaux Garden
- Defiland Bourges
- Trouee Verte
- Parc Paysager des Gibjoncs
Shopping in Bourges, France
- Halle aux Bles
- Avaricum Commercial Centre
- Bourges Old Town
Offbeat Places, Tours, & Adventures in Bourges, France
Sightseeing in Bourges, France
- Place Simone Veil
- Bourges Old Town
Food, Dining, Restaurants, & Street Food in Bourges, France
- La Suite
- La Gargouille
- Le Bourbonnoux
- La Scaleta
- Le Beauvoir
- Au Rez de Chaussese
- La Forge
- Les Petits Plats du Bourbon
- Sarl La Prose
- Les 3 Cepages
- La Bourcherie
Where to Stay in Bourges?
Here we have listed Top Rated Hotels in Bourges. You can check below listed hotels for your perfect stay in Bourges.
- Chateau de Lazenay
- Logis Villa C Hotel
- Hotel de Bourbon – Mercure Bourges
- Best Western Hotel D’Angleterre
- Ace Hotel Bourges
- Hotel les Tilleuls
- Ibis Bourges
- Ibis Styles Bourges
- Le Christina
- Oustal en Berry
How to Reach Bourges, France?
The Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris Orly, and Clermont Ferrand are the closest airports to Bourges. All of these are about 4 hours journey away from the town. These airports receive direct flights from several cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. Then you can take a train to visit Bourges from Paris city.
You can travel to Bourges by train from several cities in France. This includes Paris, Tours, Clermont, Lyon, Dijon, and so on. The town is also well connected by a bus network. This will help you reach Bourges from cities and small towns in the county. If you are planning to get to Bourges by road, you should head for route N151 or A71. The town sits at the intersection of these two major routes.
There are no direct water routes to visit Bourges.