I have wanted to see Bourges properly ever since, years ago, my son swam in a swimming competition there. We dashed in, watched and cheered as required, and dashed out again, but I always felt we had missed an opportunity, and we had.
The Cathédrale Saint-Etienne is listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The listing says it was "built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art and is admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. The tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass windows are particularly striking. Apart from the beauty of the architecture, it attests to the power of Christianity in medieval France."
The east end
I had to look up the definition of "tympanum", the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance , but it turns out I had already noticed they were stunning:
The southernmost of the five main entrances.
The entrance on the southern side.
Inside was a huge open area, with double aisles on each side.
The height was breathtaking.
Most of the stained glass dates from the 13th century.
It's possible to go to the top of the north tower, but they do warn you there are 396 steps. I can do that!
I don't deny, it was an effort! And then when I reached the top, I was horrified.
Nothing to hold me there. That parapet looked downright flimsy! I approached with great caution and the view was amazing. Clinging on for dear life, I took some pictures.
The higgledy-piggledy houses in the old city, with the modern city further in the distance.
Towards the east.
After visiting the cathedral, it was time to see the rest of the medieval centre, but that will have to wait for another post. To be continued....
More about Bourges.