JANUARY (COLD) RIDE TO THE CATHEDRAL

Story and Photos by ITN European Reporter Herve’ Rebollo

Salut à toi American rider,

My last monthly ride took me right to the center of France in a very old medieval city named BOURGES.

I have a very special attachment to this little provincial city … because it’s my hometown.

The idea was having a long ride (600 kms / 375 miles) in this early January. May be it was not exactly a day to ride, it was really cold (two Celsius degrees under zero), the roads before 9am were slippery and rain and even snow were announced. But I was ready for it and was not alone, one of my friends came with me with his Porsche car.

We left Paris at 8:30 am this Saturday morning with the target to ride / drive at least two hours before having a coffee. Of course, we wanted to stop in a typical little village.

And then (after 3 coffees) we were ready to come back on the road.

In the direction of the Loire river to cross the bridge of the small town of Sully-sur-Loire and admire its magnificent castle.

Here, I have a personal tradition for years: each time I cross this city, I have a little stop to take a photo of me and my bike … years after years I may have about 20 photos of me in front of this castle (and I still don’t know why I do that).

The target of this one day road trip was to show my friend the amazing cathedral of Bourges, having a good meal and take some beautiful photos. We think we have fully reach this target.

The trip was great (and finally sunny in the afternoon).

The target of this one day road trip was to show my friend the amazing cathedral of Bourges, having a good meal and take some beautiful photos. We think we have fully reach this target.

The trip was great (and finally sunny in the afternoon).

And we took many beautiful photos.

Bourges is a very old city. The privileged position occupied by the site of Bourges during the early Iron Age or Hallstattian period has been established by archaeological evidence. Just a short distance from the geographical center of France, Prefecture of the Cher county and capital of the province of Berry, Bourges is the third largest city in the Centre Region. The inhabitants of Bourges are called “Berruyers” and number 71 000. Bourges’ motto is “Summa Imperii Penes Bituriges” (Supreme power is in the hands of the Bituriges). You can read (in English) the history of the city here: https://www.ville-bourges.fr/_en/site/introduction_bourges-history

A Royal City since the year 1100, Bourges is growing in size and prosperity. In the upper part of the town, the Great Tower, which is the twin of the keep at the Louvre, is the symbol of Royal Power. The new Gothic Cathedral which is under construction is a hymn to the authority of the Archbishops of Bourges, primates of Aquitaine.

Figurehead of the Capetian domain facing the south of France, St Etienne’s Cathedral had to be unique in design. The architectural style chosen by the unknown Master-builder is based on a plan with no transept and plastic effects of great modernity for their time. The Cathedral is still surrounded by the half-timbered houses of the medieval town.
These are the criteria which earned the addition of St Etienne’s Cathedral to Unseco World Heritage sites list in 1992.

The Cathedral of St Etienne of Bourges, 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.

Bourges, the ancient Roman city of Avaricum, was one of the first Christian communities of Gaul. The cathedral, which was dedicated to the first Christian martyr, Saint Etienne, occupies the site of a place of worship since the 3rd century.

The armorial bearings (Blason) of Bourges is down of three silver sheeps with golden necklace on azure.

Built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, it is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art, and admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. Its tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass windows are particularly striking. Apart from the beauty of its architecture, it bears witness to the power of Christianity in medieval France.

The plan of the cathedral is simple and harmonious. It is a basilica with five naves and chapels surrounding the choir. Double flying buttresses allow for the absence of tribunes and provide equal luminosity throughout the nave and the side aisles.

The most remarkable characteristics of the cathedral are the perspective of the lateral walls and the unity of the interior space. The sculptures on the north and south doors, on the tympanum of the Door of the Last Judgement (at the centre of the west façade) and others like the sculpted rood screen comprise outstanding examples of Gothic art. The following centuries left their mark on the cathedral: the stained-glass windows hence comprise a true encyclopaedia of this art of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

Around 4pm, it was time to come back home. Other tiny roads across the amazing forest of Sologne (one of the biggest in France) and its numerous wild hogs. We saw one destroying a car right in front of  me after having cross the road without any care for its direct environment (Hog 1 / Car 0). I was so lucky. Two second later and this stupid crazy hog was for me  … I prefer not thinking about the consequences for my health and my lovely bike.

We finally arrived safe at home, in the wind, under the rain and darkness, tired but so happy after this great ride. For sure, next time you will be in France I’ll take you to Bourges city, you will enjoy, no doubt (may I suggest in May or June).

See ya soon on the road my American friend …who knows?

Hervé.