Located in the middle of France, Bourges is a medium-sized, average city. Average? We should also use other adjectives to qualify Bourges. Bourges is magnificent, ambitious, and charming, Bourges is crucial. Yet Bourges has this adjective that sticks to its skin like a vice, it is average. It is also the name of the main street of Bourges, the rue Moyenne. Thus, Bourges is stuck in this intermediate place which pejoratively serves as a catch-all category for so many cities in France and Europe. The average is never good enough. It does not have the charm of the small ones. Nor the power of the big ones. Don’t we use in France the “diagonal of the void” to qualify this part of the territory as only composed of small and medium-sized cities? Void. No wonder the mayor of Bourges, Yann Galut, categorically refuses to describe Bourges as a medium-sized city and prefers to speak of a "city on a human scale".
How many cities in Europe are in the same situation as Bourges? Cities with less than 100,000 inhabitants represent half of the citizens in France and in the European Union (more than 150 million people).
How to ensure that Europe becomes obvious for cities like Bourges? How to bring Europe to the most remote places? How to refocus Europe? We built our project around these questions.
Bourges has the legitimacy to participate in a European-scale competition. In the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, Bourges was a great humanist centre, with the Livre des Heures of Duc de Berry, the treasurer Jacques Coeur, a renowned university and a cathedral on the pilgrimage road or path to Compostela. Its contemporary history is that of French cultural decentralization orchestrated by André Malraux (writer, Minister of Culture 1958-69) with the opening of the first Maison de la Culture in France in 1963. Bourges has long been a land of creation and innovation in terms of culture through the Printemps de Bourges but also the cultural wasteland Antre Peaux.
In France, funding has been concentrated on the outskirts of metropolitan areas rather than on small and medium-sized towns. This had a strong impact on peripheral territories, small cities and median cities, rurality and what is now called ultra-rurality. But times are changing. And we can contribute to this with the help of the European Capital of Culture. Small and medium-sized cities are what we call territories of the future, they are the backbone of the European Union and they can be the future of Europe. The title of European Capital of Culture is the ideal lever for Bourges and the Center Val de Loire Region to develop a transformation project - urban, social, economic, and well-being, in soft and civic mobility. Because Bourges has designed an ambitious and innovative project that offers a new future to cities like ours. We are at the heart of France and at the heart of Europe.