Bourges – My Accidental Place of Exile

Writing about my accidental place of exile.

My « adopted » town is Bourges in the centre of France. A big small town, or a small big town of 70,000 souls. This isn’t the sort of place you’d end up living unless you ended up here by accident.

Bourges is …

  • 167 hairdressers
  • 4 poodle parlours
  • 6 beauty salons
  • 3 Irish pubs
  • A 4th division football (soccer) team.
  • 3 Japanese restaurants
  • Countless Chinese restaurants
  • 20 kebab restaurants
  • 1 Indian restaurant
  • 3 tearooms (one of which is run by an English couple)
  • 4 Home delivery pizza services
  • 2 large hypermarkets
  • 6 large supermarkets
  • 10 discount supermarkets
  • 6 High schools
  • A 12 screen multiplex cinema
  • 2 bowling alleys
  • 3 public swimming pools
  • 20 hotels
  • A medieval cathedral (classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • A championship-winning women’s’ basketball team.
  • 2 sex shops (that don’t sell sex, only sex toys)
  • 1 international rock festival

This list is not exhaustive and I am just wondering how all the 167 hairdressers’ actually manage to make a decent living.

Living in Bourges « is like living in provincial Scotland in the 1950’s »  – So said my mum (RIP). Of course, I wouldn’t know, I never lived in provincial Scotland in the 1950’s. I have never lived in Peterborough in the UK either. However, Bourges is twinned with Peterborough, so I guess if you have ever lived in Peterborough, this will give you some idea of what it is like to live in Bourges.

Suffice to say, that living in Bourges is probably very much like living in any big small town. At times hermetic, but never incestuous. Bourges is just small enough for everyone to know everyone else BUT, it is just large enough to remain anonymous.

Bourges is the sort of place you’d like to live, if you like living in places like this.

Bourges is not quite the provincial comfort zone that you might think. We are not entirely untouched by the « evils » of early twenty first century living. We do have a crime problem – drunken Saturday night brawls, the occasional mugging, burglary, car theft, drug dealing, prostitution and murder – though the murder rate is ludicrously low – about one a year.