BOURGES, the chief town of the rather distant region of Berry, is some way from the Loire valley proper but linked to it historically. The presence of one of the finest Gothic cathedrals in France, rising gloriously out of the unpretentious and handsome medieval quarter, provides enough reason for making a detour, but the city also offers an impressive mansion belonging to the Dauphin's financial adviser, Jacques Coeur.
Bourges's festival programme is excellent. Les Printemps de Bourges (Web: www.printemps-bourges.com ) features hundreds of contemporary music acts from rock to rap, and lasts for one week during the French Easter holidays. Atmospheric ambient lighting transforms the streets of the old town every evening in July and August (and from Thurs– Sat in May, June & Sept).