Moulins, a town of art and history and a town of character!
Established in the year 990, and located in the very center of France, the town of Moulins is today a very charming town which still has many treasures.
Moulins’ crowning glory happened during the seat of the Duchy of Bourbon, from 1327 to 1527. When headed by Peter II and Anne of France, the eldest daughter of Louis XI, the court was brimming with the most renowned artists from the start of the Renaissance period.
Today, everywhere in Moulins you will find evidence of the patronage of the Dukes, just by wandering about. Stroll around peacefully in the cobblestoned streets of the old town, taking in houses with timber frames and the large private residences and buildings. As you walk along, you will get glimpses of the town’s five centuries of history, from the Middle Ages to the 15th century and on to Art Nouveau at the start of the 20th, which saw Gabrielle Chanel become the famous fashion designer “Coco” Chanel in Moulins.
Since 2005, several top listed cultural places give access to unique collections, places and exhibitions creating though an original and well structured tourism supply : The National center for stage costumes, the 19th century private house Maison Mantin, the museum of illustration for children books, the museum of the Visitation order, ...and the more than 500 year old Triptych of the Master of Moulins.
Take some time out to raise your gaze upwards and to admire the countless details of facades, balconies, the tympanums of churches and the gallery of the cathedral. And every day at night in summer, spectacular light shows are projected on the main historical buildings of the town. A not to be missed event.
Few kilometers outside Moulins, in the little village of Souvigny, you will face the largest religious structure built in the Bourbonnais historic province (constructed between the 10th and 15th Centuries); the Basilica has two original transepts. It houses, in two chapels, the recumbent statues of the Dukes of Bourbon and of their wives. In the nave, the tomb of Majolus and Odilo – 4th and 5th abbots of Cluny’s Abbey - takes centre stage as a Sanctuary for Peace.
Most recent born cultural site, set in the middle of the fields among the white Charolais beefs, Street Art City, has become in few years the place to visit when it comes to Urban Art and artists. More than 65 frescoes created by artists from all around the world are presented to the public and the hotel 128 project reveals each autumn 32 out of its 128 rooms and the unique work of the artists who were given these rooms ! A dazzling architectural and artistic discovery in total immersion.
And guess what ! All these tourist sites are linked by more than 1000 km of secure little roads. A real opportunity to ride a bicycle with your friends and family and organise easy and environmentally friendly tours.
Irrespective of how long you are staying in Moulins and its region, you are going to feel sorry that you have to move on so quickly !
Top things to do
Dress up your visit at the National center for stage costumes (CNCS)
Based in a magnificent 18th Century military barracks, the CNCS is giving a second lease of life to stage costumes used and stored by La Comédie Française, l’Opéra National de Paris and La Bibliothèque Nationale de France (national ibrary of France). The CNCS has a wealthy inventory of more than 20,000 items and each year holds two temporary themed exhibitions, during the course of each of which on average about 100 costumes are exhibited.
The “Collection Noureev” (Nureyev’s collection) also enables visitors to get to know more about the special world and the personal possessions of this legendary 20th Century dancer, which are presented in a permanent exhibition and which can be viewed all year round.
Embrace the city of Moulins at night
Step in the bourbons’ footsteps following your guide during one of the very exciting guided tours of the old town of Moulins. Visiting the Jacquemard, the 15th century clock tower, you will climb 144 steps to get to the top and get a 360 degrees view on the town. Don’t miss it if you can be there at sunset, it’s an amazing scenery.
And after diner, have a walk for a spectacular night tour in the narrow medieval streets and be amazed by the spectacular light shows projected on the main historical buildings of Moulins. Each show reveals a different story and perfectly fits to the monument. Not to be missed in summer!
Feel intimate with the mysterious Louis Mantin
This amazing mansion, which had been shuttered for almost a century, is an enigma. Louis Mantin, a member of the rich bourgeoisie in Moulins, had this impressive house designed for him at the end of the 19th Century. It was built on the ruins of a castle, to enable him to showcase his art and antiques collection. Mantin bequeathed the mansion to the town of Moulins in his will, which stated that the house had to be opened and shown to future generations 100 years after his death, as "a specimen of a bourgeois home of the nineteenth century".
Watching up to 250 species of birds
As far as discovering nature is concerned the Val d’Allier nature reserve, south of Moulins, recognised as of international importance, is shaped by the river Allier, a freeflowing, wild river. Its meandering path keeps pace with the floods and erosion of its banks. This river hosts some remarkable fauna and flora. 250 species of birds are identified in Val d’Allier reserve including the osprey, the stone curlew and the kingfisher. The “beaver trail” which starts in Moulins (at the motor home area) and ends at Château de Lys in Bressolles, covers 6 km (about 3¾ miles) through the heart of the Val d’Allier Nature Reserve. The terrain is mostly flat, and it is an ideal walk to go on to discover, going from information panel to information panel, all of the secrets of the Allier, and of the birds and mammals who live in the reserve. An easy way to discover nature with a family.