A rich architectural heritage
Situated on the right bank of the Loire, the town of Nevers is punctuated by lovely historical monuments, worth visiting during your stay in Burgundy.During a stroll in a couple or as a family, admire the ducal palace, the Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Cyr-et-Saint-Julitte and the Saint-Etienne Roman church. Nevers displays many Gallo-Roman relics. Evangelised in the 3rd century, the town became the headquarters of the diocese in the 6th century.
The town was fortified little by little under the influence of Pierre II de Courtenay towards the end of the 12th century. The town has belonged to successive Courtenay families but also to different families over the centuries. The town being finally fully fortified, a large part of the ramparts still remain, among which the Porte du Croux is a beautiful example of military architecture, designed to guarantee urban power. The earldom became a duchy in 1538 and was bought by Jules Mazarin for his nephew Philippe Mancini in 1659. The Nevers people felt the effects of the First World War. Initially, Nevers recovered from the trials of war, rebuilding its cathedral and its ruined districts.
But soon, Nevers underwent a quite remarkable phase of expansion. The astonished Nevers people witnessed the construction of huge properties.
In thirty years, the urban area increased by 17,000 inhabitants and its facilities improved: colleges, primary and secondary schools, stadiums, swimming pools and a House of Culture in 1971.
Beyond this general evolution, important events mark the latter part of the 20th century.On the political scene, the legislative elections of 1946 sent François Mitterrand to the Chamber.In 1964 he became President of the General Council. After his victory in 1981, a new period began for Nevers and the Nièvre region which together played a leading role in preserving the fortunes of the new President. The 1980s are then marked by the arrival of Pierre Bérégovoy, elected Mayor of Nevers in 1983, who went on to launch major projects which had the objective of changing the face of the ducal town.
On the ‘Butte’, a small hill overlooking the Loire, stand the monuments which are most representative of Nevers’ history. The Palais Ducal, renowned for being one of the largest châteaus in the Loire, used to be the residence of the Counts and then Dukes of the Nevers people. Built at the end of the 15th century, today it houses exhibition areas and town receptions, the office of the municipal council and a stunning aquarium displaying the local marine life. Close to the Palais Ducal, stands the Neo-Renaissance Italian-style theatre, built in the 19th century.
The Cathédrale Sain-Cyr Sainte-Julitte, situated on the Rue du Cloître Saint Cyr, has the peculiarity of possessing two conflicting styles of choir seating; one Roman, the other Gothic, a result of the juxtaposition of successive buildings. Another peculiarity characterises the cathedral: that of possessing contemporary-style stained-glass windows created by different painters. The cathedral possesses a baptistery which dates back to the 6th century. The cathedral’s tower, called the ‘Tour Boyer’, overlooks the town.
Nevers reveals a complete overview of religious architecture from over the centuries. From the 11th until the 20th century, remarkable buildings illustrate every style. The Saint-Etienne church, situated on the Rue Saint Etienne, is a perfect portrait of Roman architecture. Built by the Cluny monks at the end of the 11th century, the Saint-Etienne church was consecrated over 900 years ago by Yves de Chartres. Almost unaffected by time’s destructive tendencies, the church offers true witness to the spirit of the first great western art.
The Sainte-Marie Chapel, situated on the Rue Saint Martin, is the old convent of the Visitation. It was built in the 17th century. It is distinguished by its Baroque-style façade, unique in Nevers and rare in France.
The Museum of Earthenware and the Beaux-Arts displays a collection of more than 1500 diverse pieces of earthenware from Nevers, dating from the 16th to the 20th century, numerous pieces of ceramics and a rare collection of drawn glass. The collections also hold works, paintings, sculptures and art objects, whose world interest is renowned.
The Archaeological Museum of the Nevers region exhibits a rich collection of objects from the Bronze Age to the modern era, originating principally from archaeological excavations.
The Nevers region Museum of Education displays, among several specialised rooms, the differing progressions of writing techniques and different materials, from the quill to nowadays (the computer).
The Municipal Museum Gautron du Coudray - Marzy In 1938, its founder had the objective of creating the ‘leading museum in the village’.
Since then, there has been a large extension of its ethnology, mineralogy and Beaux-Arts areas.
Fonds François Mitterrand This site houses the different books given to President François Mitterrand during his seven-year term of office, which after his death were gifted to the town of Nevers.
The Floral Park of Apremont-sur-Allier 16km from Nevers, on the banks of the river Allier, at the heart of a medieval village listed among ‘the most beautiful villages in France’, the Floral Park of Apremont stretches over four hectares with ponds, waterfalls, lawns, clumps of trees, bushes and flowers.
This garden is embellished with a ‘mill’ - a fantastic building - imagined in the spirit of the second half of the 18th century; a Chinese bridge, a Turkish pavilion and a belvedere.