The town accounts for 70,828 inhabitants called the Berruyers. If we take into account its agglomeration, which has a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants, Bourges is the third biggest city of the Centre region after Tours and Orléans. Bourges was a Gaul city which was conquered by Julius Ceasar during the Gallic Wars. The town holds indeed numerous vestiges from the Roman period.
Nature has an important place in Bourges. The town lies at the confluence of different rivers (Yèvre, Voiselle, Auron and Moulon) and marshlands can be found in the town centre on 135 hectares. The town has a nice setting and received four flowers at the French competition of flourished towns and villages, which rewards towns where there are many gardens, parks, flowers, etc.
Bourges is a ‘town of Art and History’. It houses plenty of worth-seeing monuments. The St Etienne cathedral is one of the Bourges’ prides. Built during the 12th century, this outstanding Gothic cathedral belongs to the World Heritage of UNESCO since 1992.
Property prices in Bourges are affordable in comparison with the national average: €1,735/square metre in 2009 against €3,197/sq m for a property to buy. As far as the rental market is concerned, the average price is €9.96/sq m/month, which is once again below the national average (€12.22/sq m/month). Almost 54% of the properties in Bourges are apartments and 54.5% of the inhabitants rent their property, so we can deduce from these figures that there are good rental opportunities in the area.
In 2008, it cost between €1,070/sq m and €1,750/sq m to buy an apartment in the town and between €2,610/sq m and €3,100/sq m for a new one. In April 2009, it cost about €1,670/sq m to invest in an apartment there. It is still possible to find houses at low prices. The area offers 4-room houses for a range of prices comprised between €110,000 and €157,000 and 6-room ones for €135,000-€200,000.
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Historical heritage: as said before, Bourges received the ‘title’ of ‘town of Art and History’. The town boasts outstanding monuments such as the palais Jacques Coeur or the cathédrale Saint-Etienne, as well as old medieval streets and half-timbered houses on the place Gordaine. Vestiges from the Gallo-Roman fortifications or from the palace of the duke Jean de Berry, the archiepiscopal palace and very ancient hotels belong to Bourges’ historical and architectural heritage.
Culture: Bourges is not only a town of Art and History, but also a town of culture. Its famous music festival - Printemps de Bourges - has been existing since 1977 and made the pride of the area. This festival takes place in April. During 5 days, people can attend plenty of concerts of varied music styles. This music festival is one of the oldest of this kind in France. It is really a reference in French music festivals. From May to June, Bourges’ monuments are enlightened every evening for the nuits lumières (‘nights of light’). Interesting scenographies invite people to discover these jewels of architecture. Several international festivals in the domain of the cinema are also held in the town since 2005.
Museums: local museums are located in beautiful hotels which were built during the Middle Ages. The Cujas hotel is home to Berry’s Museum (works of art, archaeology, medieval history, etc), the Estève Museum (collection of works of art from the French painter Maurice Estève, who originates from Cher) is to be found in the Echevins hotel, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Lallemant hotel and the ‘Museum of the best French workers’ in the old archbishop palace.
Economy: the town is a thriving economic centre. It has always been an important place for weapons production. In 1866, a canon foundry was implanted in Bourges. Nowadays, the weapons industry still represents a big part of the local economy. Aeronautics and aerospace industries are also important in the area, as well as cutting edge technology. Bourges is the headquarter of the Chamber of Commerce of the Cher department.
Half-timbered houses: it is not rare seeing wonderful maisons à colombage in the medieval part of the town. People can admire these architectural style in the Bourbonnoux and Auron streets and on the Gordaine square for instance. These timber frame properties are full of charm and very sought-after. Cob is the main construction material used to build half-timbered houses. Timbers (usually oak) and cob mixed together create a very particular style which can definitely not be compared to other architectural styles. On some properties, timbers have a richly carved Gothic or Renaissance ornamentation.
Town houses: located close to all amenities, these properties are perfect for families or couple. Sometimes in need of renovation, a good idea would be to buy such a property and convert it into several apartments. The size of such houses may vary. Town houses often come with a garden and/or a garage.
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