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Moulins (Allier): “a city rich with 5 centuries of history”

Moulins is not only the prefecture of Allier, but also a city of Art and History, as well as the capital of the Bourbonnais, a former duchy of the powerful Bourbons family. To know more about Moulins, we asked Laurent Laborie, Director of the Tourism Office of Moulins and its region.

Rédigé par Saliha Hadj-Djilani translated by Joséphine Foucher le Dimanche 27 Mars 2016

Laurent Laborie, Director of the Tourism Office of Moulins and its region
Laurent Laborie, Director of the Tourism Office of Moulins and its region What are the highlights of Moulins?

L.L.: “The major strong points of the city of Moulins are its history and historical neighborhood. The heritage of the Bourbons family left a strong imprint on the city and its region. In just a simple stroll around the city, it becomes strikingly obvious that Moulins managed to preserve a beautiful Medieval neighborhood. By walking for only thirty minutes, we quickly realize that Moulins is a city rich with 5 centuries of history. Visitors can admire the private hotels or France’s first edifice from the Renaissance that is now converted into the Anne de Beaujeu museum.

Beyond the city’s architectural qualities and its own history, we also have the chance of holding unique visiting sites such as the National Theater Costume Center that houses over 10,000 costumes from the Comédie Française and the Parisian Operas… Usually it is a conservation place but it organizes two major thematic exhibits annually for the general public to enjoy the splendor of these costumes.

Another emblematic spot of the city is la Maison Mantin that opened to the public in 2010 and enables to visit the house of a rich 19th century bourgeois from Moulin, giving a deeper look into the life of this period. It houses a wonderful cabinet of curiosities. Foreigners love to visit this home because they are exposed to the authentic history of those times in a home where almost everything was kept intact .” How did Moulins become the capital of the Bourbons’ duchy?

L.L.: “The Bourbons were a royal dynasty born in a village called Bourbon l’Archambault, next to Moulins. The first famous Bourbon goes back to the 10th century. He gave a property he owned in the current city of Souvigny to the Abbey of Cluny in order to build another, sister, abbey of the one in Cluny. And from this point on, Cluny and the Bourbons were linked for centuries to come.

The Bourbons family developed throughout the Middle Ages and then developed one of France’s most powerful duchies. This duchy reached its peak during the reign of Pierre II de Bourbon who married Anne de France, the daughter of Saint Louis, and together they will come to symbolize the power of the Bourbons and the royal power. Anne de France, who was established in Moulins, managed the regency of the Kingdom twice, meaning that she managed all of the Kingdom's affairs from Moulins with a very lavish court, strong financial means, and an array of important people who will come to Moulins and leave a strong impact.

The Bourbons family then kept on developing. It became a royal branch with Henri the IV’s ascension to the throne since the Valois dynasty died off, so it was necessary to find a youthful branch for the Bourbons. Leading to all of France’s kings being Bourbons Kings from the beginning of Henri IV’s reign until Louis XVIII. What is the Bourbons’ heritage in Moulins?

L.L.:It can be found in the ruins of the Bourbons Castles with the Mal Coiffée in Moulins, the Castle’s ancient dungeon, a part of the Castle’s façade, the famous Anne de Beaujeu pavillon that was built in the late 15th century, and the current cathedral of Moulins that is an expansion of the former chapel of the Bourbons.

The Ducal Officers also had private hotels built where they lived. Today, we can still admire these beautiful edifices in Moulin and its region.” Are there any new products in Moulins for 2016?

L.L.: “In fact, we always have new things going on thanks to our museums. All of our museums, whether it is the National Theater Costume Center or the Anne de Beaujeu museum, renew their exhibits every 6 months.

In this way, we do not have static museums and there are constantly new wonders to explore. This is very interesting for our culture-thirsty visitors who can experience varying exhibits throughout the entire year.”

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