LONGERE CULTURE

La Charité-Sur-Loire, priory in a town full of books

The impressive priory buildings and the enormous church with its tower from the 12th century once gave room to 5000 people and are now split worked into the city’s nucleus : there are now even houses where the nave of the church once stood. The high number of antique stores deMonstrates that the town is very fond of books: La Charité is an official book town. If you have a sweet tooth, you can get your way as well: candy with character (charitois and charitoise) are being sold in the shadow of the church entry (Confiserie du Prioré). The tourist office (Place Sainte-Croix 5) can give show you a tour of the village with information about the priory and the book theme.
www.lacharitesurloire-tourisme.com

Bourges, town of eternal spring

Bourges is an elegant and romantic town who boasts an impressive cathedral (listed as UNESCO World Heritage), green swamps, the palace of Jacques Cœur built in the 15th century, the noble mansions and gardens in contrast with the simple religious buildings not far from the ramparts.

‘Le Printemps de Bourges’ (Bourges’ Spring), a festival with hundreds of artists, moves the whole town musically and thereafter, during the whole summer, there are more than 100 shows in the gardens and the squares, while the Nuits Lumière (free sound and light shows starting at sunset) reveal the secrets of a rich estate…
www.bourges-tourisme.com

Nevers, Ville d’art et d’histoire

This capital of Nevers region, which is situated on a hill on a few kilometres from the confluence of the Allier and the Loire, has been known since the 17th century for its beautiful pottery, faience and blown glass. The cathedral St-Cyr-et Ste-Juliette, the Duke’s Palace and the Bell Tower are proof of the glorious past, when the counts of Nevers ruled this region. Saint Bernadette Soubirous passed away here in 1879, and her body, which has been exhumed three times intactly, now rests in a glass shrine in the chapelof the Espace Bernadette.

www.nevers-tourisme.com

Vézelay, starting point towards Santiago de Compostela

In the time of the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, the inhabitants of Vézelay provided shelter for 10.000 pilgrims. The climb to the magnificent Saint-Madeleine is a spiritual start on its own: its old Christian centre has been listed as Unesco World Heritage since 1979. Artists and writers have found inspiration here, and the spirit of roman art is still present.
www.vezelaytourisme.com

Apremont-sur-Allier, where old picture books come to life

Comfortably settled in a meander of the Allier, this medieval village is indeed one of the ‘most beautiful villages of France’. Time stood still at the untouched shores, at the castle (with magnificent flower gardens of 5 ha) : gild houses in pink colours next to each other in the one main street, roofs with slate tiles, walls covered in green, perfectly trimmed hedges and patios with beautiful flowers.
In the castle stables, there is an exhibition of carriages from the 19th century in the Musée des Calèches.
www.apremont-sur-allier.com

Abbey of Noirlac, where the rich Monastery life has been preserved

The Cistercian abbey on the shore of the Cher is one of the best kept and most complete Monasteries of France. It holds nine centuries of turbulent history and now keeps the Centre culturel de rencontre, where there are organized cultural and artistic events for everyone.
www.abbayedenoirlac.com

The Loire castles, proud witnesses across a legendary river

Following the river’s stream, one can discover the Loire castles: Renaissance buildings, medieval fortresses, all that has been built is now listed as UNESCO World Heritage. Kings, artists and famous authors were not mistaken. The charm of the Loire made many people choose to settle next to the river. Each of those Monuments has a rich history.
www.chateauxloire.com

The presence of fat clay is the roots of the pottery tradition in the Berry, and it has been the case since the start of our calendar. La Borne is an old pottery village with a long ceramics history: goods were produced there for hundreds of ages, and baked in enormous ovens, on the traditional French way.

Not long ago, pottery has started a new life: in the Musée de la Poterie, the Centre de Creation Ceramique in La Borne and the workshops with free entrance of the regional ceramists. Do you feel like taking a workshop in ceramics?
www.laborne.org

Château de Meillant, magical castle

Protected and far away from the habited world, between forest and swamps, Karel ChauMont d’Amboise built this castle in Renaissance style. The current owners, the marquis and marquise of Mortemart, are their direct descendants.

The beautiful furniture of the rooms have broad sculpted fireplaces, and walls covered with leather from Cordoba still reflect the grandeur of the royal families. In the old basements they rebuilt life in France through time in miniatures, kind of like a Madurodam of the past.
www.chateaudemeillant.fr

Guédelon, fortress building as in medieval times

Building a castle with the techniques and materials from the 13th century: 50 workers started this project in 1997 and they hope finishing it in 2025. Medieval manuscripts and drawings are tested towards reality.

Testing a treadmill and a vault while baking thousands of tiles in an oven: the medieval techniques reveal their secrets bit by bit.
www.guedelon.fr

Jacques Coeur route, 30 cultural highlights united

The historic route of Jacques Coeur crosses the region and contains 10 private castles, an abbey, six cities or public Monuments, together with 14 museums and tourist attractions. The ‘pass privilege de Jacques Coeur’, allows the interested visitor to enjoy a reduced price everywhere. One can follow the route by car or by bike (www.berrycyclettes.fr) and the smallest ones can solve mysteries as if they were real treasure hunters. Pouligny is an excellent starting point to discover the route in various directions.
www.route-jacques-coeur.org

…and also…

Aubigny-sur-Nère (Scottish footprint of the stuarts)
Musée de la Loire (in Cosne-sur-Loire)
Musée des métiers (in Argent-sur-Sauldre)
Musée du Berry (in Bourges)
Castle of Nohant
Castle of Valençay
Mehun-sur-Yèvre,

NATURE

In the Loire valley there is a harMony between man and nature: the castles, cities and villages, the river culture and the wine production fall within a splendid setting, to be discovered by foot, bike, horse, canoe or kayak.

Forest of Bertranges

Over 10000 hectares pristine oak forest, the second largest primeval forest in France, originally offered to the Benedictine Monks at La-Charité-sur-Loire in 1221, and currently state forest: through planned routes (available at the Tourist Office at La-Charité-sur-Loire) badgers, foxes and deer can be discovered by foot, bike or horse.

Also the old workshops of the former metallurgy were preserved: in this area intensive iron forging was practiced from the 14th to the 19th century, due to the existing iron ore, charcoal and the harbour at La Charité, a very busy trading place in the era of shipping on the river Loire.
www.lacharitesurloire-tourisme.com/La-Foret-des-Bertranges

The Greenbelt of Val de Loire

A natural reservation exactly halfway the long trajectory of the river Loire to the Atlantic Ocean stretching over 19 km between La-Charité-sur-Loire and Pouilly-sur-Loire. Sandbanks, currents of the river, little wooded islands, creeks, coves and swamps: this mosaic of contrasting ecologic systems, modelled by the river, offers the most favourable living conditions to fauna (270 species) and flora (200 species).

A few beaver families and lots of migratory birds can be observed on a trek by foot, bike or kayak. The camping in La Charité (left bank) marks the starting point to nature trails from 3,5 km up to 6,5 km. Brochures free to obtain at the Tourist Office.
www.reserves-naturelles.org/val-de-loire

The gardens of the Priory at Orsan, promise of a heavenly paradise

The Priory Notre Dame at Orsan has resurrected from the past with much elegance. In order to restore the atmosphere of the Monastery gardens veraciously the gardeners relied on the medieval miniature painting. Nicely braided fences board the garden, with high garden beds, arbors and barrel vaults. You can explore in peace and quiet the kitchen gardens and orchards, the straightforward garden, the labyrinth of fruit trees and Mary’s rose garden. Orsan devoted itself with great talent to the art of gardening. Here you will enjoy the tranquillity and get inspired. In the weekend and every day in the summer you can take a lunch as well: on the menu vegetables and fruits from the garden. And from spring till Christmas the events and animations will guarantee your visit to Orsan to become a success.

…and also…

Regional Reservation of the Brenne (the land of 1000 lakes)
Pond Wells (175 hectares of water at the Sauldre)
Floral Park at Apremont-sur-Allier
Bog gardens at Bourges
Trail of the secret gardens in Berry (www.jardins-de-france.com)

SPORTS

The Loire by bike, unique cycling trail

Laid out to minimize air pollution, this 800 km interregional trail traverses 6 departments including Cher (40 km). Right along the longest river in France, the last wild river in Eurospe, through the valley which abounds cultural and natural treasures, its way through characteristic villages you end up in an exceptional cultural nature reserve, listed as UNESCO World Heritage as «living cultural landscape » .
Major deserted beaches, immense sandbanks or « boires » (dead-end river branches) withered during summer are the living quarters of terns, grebes, ospreys, blue herons, beavers and fish of the Loire…
www.fietsen-loire.com

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

Ageless roads, trampled and used by thousands of pedestrians for Moore than 1000 years: pilgrimages on foot hundreds of kilometres straight through France originated from the 11th century onwards. Four trails to Santiago de Compostela are historically recognized : the Via Lemovicensis, starting at Vézelay and heading to Bourges via La-Charité-sur-Loire passes Residence Pouligny.

The trails to Compostela are marked with the logo of the scallop, the yellow and blue logo (Eurospean cultural trail) or a double line with red and yellow in the case of a piece of GR-route. Travel directions « Sentiers vers St.Jacques-de-Compostela through Vézelay » was edited by the Fédération Française de la randonnée pédestre.

www.tweevoeter.nl/santiago

Aquatics on the Loire

Floating on the water the valley of the Loire looks completely different. Kayak and canoe lend themselves excellently for this purpose: gently carried along virgin islands with white beaches you can spot ducks, waders, songbirds and birds of prey, beside beaver families and other river dwellers.

Alone or with the family, throughout the year departure and arrival are possible in La Charité, during the summer even daily.
Reservations possible for a half or full day, but also for a three-day excursion, in which camping on a island is provided. Harmless and unforgettable !
www.canoe-lacharite.fr

CHEESE WITH CHARACTER

Crottin de Chavignol AOC

Named after a small hamlet near Sancerre this spicy goat cheese with AOC label has been manufactured from the sixteenth century onwards. Round and small, fresh or ripened it’s a delicacy in gastronomic salads but also extremely suitable as a companion for the white wine of Sancerre./p>

Pyramide de Valençay AOC

The curd of raw goat milk is poured in pyramid moulds and salted with a mixture of salt and ashes. Delicious with the red wine of Valençay!

Pyramide van Pouligny-Saint-Pierre AOC

Another pyramid shaped goat cheese manufactured with raw goat milk. Nice white dairy with a crumbly but soft texture. The slightly briny taste derives from the grazing goats in a peat bog with lots of wild herbs, flowers and heather. During ripening a blue-ish flor appears on the outside. This might be the tastiest goat cheese!

... AND HEAVENLY SWEET!

Le charitois en la charitoise

In restaurant La Poule, right across the Confiserie du Prioré at La-Charité-Sur-Loire a curious marriage was solemnised in 1988 between an old candy man, « Le Charitois » and a young sweet, « La Charitoise ». The charitois, soft caramel with chocolate or coffee flavour in an amber-coloured shell of sugar, would date already from 1921. In the eighties a new confectioner developed the charitoise, with a praline core. A visit to the Confiserie du Prioré (11, Place des Pêcheurs) is also a lust for the eye, because the shop is still authentic, decorated as it was in those times .

Les Forestines

Sinds Georges Forest in 1879 invented the first stuffed bonbon the « Forestines” keep their trade secret and are being exported worldwide from the beautiful shop in Bourges, built in 1884. (Place Cujas, 3)
www.forestines.fr

Le négus

On the occasion of the visit of the emperor of Ethiopia (the « négus ») to France in 1901, confectioner Grelier in Nevers created a bonbon with caramel filling and crunchy sugar crust, named négus. His candy store still exist and carries the name « Au Négus ». (Rue François Mitterand, 96)
www.au-negus.com

 

…and also…
Artisan walnut oil
Apple juice from the orchards at Saint-Martin d’Auxigny (near Bourges)
Les Chocolats Talleyrand in Valençay

SHOPPING

Shoppingcenter “Avaricum”
Shoppingcenter « Avaricum »
32 boutiques in a brand new sales center in the heart of Bourges, with 350 available parking spaces : waiting to be discovered.
8, avenue Peterborough, Bourges
Opening time : Monday till Saturday 10 h-19u30 h

 

Arômes du Vieux Bourges
This imposing house with a showcase bears witness to a prestigious history dating back to the middle ages….The aromas of spiced cake, ginger flavours, cherries, cinnaMon…fill the shop.
11, Place Gorgaine, Bourges
Tel/fax : 02 48 24 64 25

 

Atout fruit
A bar serving fruit juices with warm colours to discover or rediscover the 83 flavours of the Monin syrups. This house was installed in Bourges in 1912 and is constantly innovating the savours of the syrups, daring, imaginative and tasteful.
10, rue de Sarrebourg, Bourges
TEL: 02 48 20 22 45