- Jacques Coeur Palace
- The Saint Etienne de Bourges cathedral listed as a UNESCO heritage
Set off with your family, group or friends to discover Bourges, the historic capital of Berry, located in the department of Cher (18). Apart from its pretty alleys, magnificent half-timbered houses and its famous music festival, the town of Bourges, City of Art and History contains two remarkable buildings.
The Jacques Coeur Palace and Saint-Étienne Cathedral, listed as a Historic Monument in 1862 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, invite you to immerse yourself in an incredible historical past.
This masterpiece of Gothic art, unique in its conception, was built in 1195 at the request of Archbishop Henri de Sully in agreement with King Philippe Auguste. The building, whose plans are inspired by Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, replaces the old Romanesque church.
You will quickly understand why this construction, located in the heart of the historic center, witness to royal power and the archbishops, attracts more than 600,000 people each year. Imposing and majestic, it remains visible for miles around. The length of its nave, its stained-glass windows from the 13th to the 17th century, the 396 steps of the Butter Tower and the absence of a transept surprise all visitors.
Before entering this technical and artistic feat, you will remain in awe of the 5 sculpted portals, including the Saint-Etienne portal and their respective tympanums.
Inside, the thirteenth-century stained-glass windows represent scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the Last Judgment … These high-quality stained-glass windows let in a striking light. The Cathedral is also distinguished by its organ dating from 1424, its astronomical clock and its first Romanesque crypt which houses the relics of Saint-Etienne.
A pair of buttocks sculpted in the middle of a frieze, signature of a stonemason, is hidden in the cathedral! Can you spot it?
Accompanied by your guide, you will continue your journey by visiting the Jacques Coeur Palace, one of the most beautiful civil Gothic buildings in France, built in the 15th century.
Jacques Coeur began his career in the father business. His marriage to Macée de Léodepart in 1418 allowed him to get closer to the world of money. Over the years, he has forged great notoriety. King Charles VII then decided to name him Argentier in 1438 and ennobled him in 1141.
At the height of his activity and to assert his rank, Jacques Coeur bought the Domaine de la Chaussée, a privileged location adjoining the Gallo-Roman rampart and two houses. The private hotel called “La Grant’Maison”, built between 1443 and 1450, symbolizes the finest example of civil Gothic architecture in France from the 15th century.
But his meteoric rise aroused such jealousy that he was arrested in 1451. Jacques Coeur escaped taking refuge in Rome. He died in 1456 during a crusade.
The palace, confiscated by the Crown, will be returned to his heirs in 1457 and then resold many times. The installation of the Court of Appeal and the courts will cause serious damage. The state bought the building in 1923 and began extensive restoration work.
Today, the building, inscribed on the first List of Historic Monuments of 1840, owned by the State, is managed by the Center des Monuments Nationaux.
This building stands out for its oriental frontage, the richness of its decoration in the flamboyant style of the late Middle Ages and its splendid chapel where its famous maxim “With valiant heart, nothing impossible” holds its place. The facade and that of the main building are dexterously designed.
You will be able to see a multitude of sculpted figures as well as representations of the daily life and travels of Jacques Coeur, including one of his boats on a magnificent stained glass window.
Inside, you will find that this exceptional man has put a lot of emphasis on comfort and hygiene. The staterooms and private apartments are richly decorated. The perfectly functional circulation system which consists of spiral staircases, service corridors and galleries testifies to the genius of the ancient builders.
The omnipresence of references to the crown of France attests to the influence of this illustrious personage with the royal court. His fame would forever be remembered. The statue of Jacques Cœur made by Auguste Préault sits on the square.