In the middle of France, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the city of Moulins is an ideal destination for a cultural getaway weekend. With its cathedral, its numerous museums but also its charming historical center, this city is perfect for a change of scenery. How to get there? What is there to discover? Here is a practical guide to prepare your next trip to Moulins.
Moulins in short
- When to go? Moulins is especially appreciated for its historical center and its numerous cultural places. Most of your visits will take place indoors, which allows you to discover the city all year round.
- How long will I stay there? The city is not big and can easily be discovered during a day. But if you want to take the time to visit all the museums, it is preferable to plan two days or more on site.
- How to get there? From Paris or Lyon, you only need 2h30 by train. Only 1 hour from Clermont-Ferrand. Coming from these three cities it is therefore easy to plan a round trip for the day. By car, Moulins’ location in the center of France makes it easy to reach from many other cities.
- How to get around Moulins ? If you go there by train, the train station is only 800 meters from the historic center, so it is easy to do everything on foot. If walking is not your favorite activity, a bus network serves all the tourist sites and the train station from Monday to Saturday, every half hour.
- Who is it for? Alone, in couple or with friends, provided you have an interest in culture and heritage. A stay with the family is also possible thanks to the facilities provided for children in the museums. However, avoid with the very young: the cobblestone streets will not make stroller rides easy!
Good tip: the Moulins CityPass
If you wish to visit the most of the cultural places of Moulins, consider the CityPass. Sold at the tourist office for 16 € per day, 25 € for two days or 30 € for three days, it offers unlimited access to museums and city tours. In addition, this pass offers free access to the bus network.
5 things to do in Moulins
Stroll in the historical center
Founded in 990 the city reached its peak between 1327 and 1527 when it was at the head of the Duchy of Bourbonnais. The court was then frequented by famous artists of the Renaissance.
A stroll through the historic center allows you to travel through the history of the city, from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century. You will certainly fall under the charm of the cobbled streets, half-timbered and timber-framed houses.
Enter in the cathedral
The cathedral of Moulins has a particularly original architecture linked to its history. It was indeed built in two stages: its choir is the vestige of the former collegiate church of the 15th century, while its nave and its two bell towers date from an extension of primitive Gothic style of the 19th century.
Inside, you can discover the Triptych of the Master of Moulins, a masterpiece representing the Virgin in glory.
Entrance to the cathedral is free, but admission to the Triptych is subject to a fee (€3, €2 for those under 20 – included in the CityPass).
Visit the Mantin House
Beware, you’ll fall in love with this place! We owe the Mantin House to Louis Mantin, sub-prefect, collector, scholar and art lover. Coming from a wealthy family and an annuitant at the age of 42, he had this superb house built where he housed a rich collection.
When he died in 1905, he bequeathed the house to the community “so as to show visitors in a hundred years a home of a 19th century bourgeois”. Damaged by time, this house was the subject of a vast restoration campaign in the 2000s and has been open to the public again since 2010.
The Mantin House can be discovered on a guided tour with a ticket including a free visit of the Anne de Beaujeu Museum (see below). 8 € per adult, 6 € for 16 to 25 year olds, free for under 16 year olds and CityPass holders.
Discover the Anne de Beaujeu Museum
Located right next to the Maison Mantin, the Anne de Beaujeu Museum is considered a “small Louvre” as its collection is so varied, ranging from archaeology to 19th century painting, including medieval Bourbon sculptures, decorative art from the Moulins and Egyptian mummies!
Not to be missed, the Painting Salon which presents a superb collection of the second half of the 19th century (Gérôme, Laurens, Henner, Cabanel, Meissonier…). The presentation of the artworks, very dense, resumes that of the Parisian “salons” which revealed the contemporary artistic production.
Full price €5; €3 for 16-25 year olds; free for under 16 year olds and CityPass holders.
Go to the CNCS ( National Center for Stage Costume)
Since 2006, the city of Moulins has been home to an unexpected but exciting museum: the National Center for Stage Costumes) whose mission is to preserve, enhance and study a collection of 10,000 costumes from the theater, opera and ballet.
The fragility of the costumes makes it impossible to exhibit them over time, so the CNCS does not offer a permanent collection (except for a space dedicated to Rudolf Nureyev) but does offer permanent temporary exhibitions of high quality renewed every four to five months.
Full rate: 7 € / Reduced rate: 3 € / Free for children under 12 years old and CityPass holders
If you have a little more time, you can also go and discover the Museum of Youth Illustration dedicated, as its name suggests, to the illustration of children’s books from the 19th century to the present day. With more than 500 artworks, it is an ideal museum for a family audience.
Also to be seen, the Museum of the Visitation. A unique museum in France which presents many objects of the order of the Visitation from 100 monasteries around the world. The opportunity to discover the daily life of the monasteries of this order founded in 1610.
Map of Moulins
Find all the addresses mentioned in this article on this map :
Enjoy your stay in Moulins ! And if you liked this article, pin it on Pinterest!
Thanks to the Anne de Beaujeu museum and the Béatrice Martini agency for their invitation. Special thanks to Hugo and Béatrice.