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The town is proud to present its renowned creativity which has survived the centuries from the days of the Dukes of Bourbon down to the present day.
The most recent example was the creation of the Illustration Centre devoted to book illustrations dating from the last 50 years. Located alongside the Allier, you can visit the CNCS, the Centre National du Costume de Scène (National Theatre Costume Centre) with its collection of 9,000 theatre or opera costumes, which organises a number of extremely varied annual exhibitions. As the préfecture of the Allier area, Moulins is rightly proud of the vibrant yet peaceful lifestyle of a town which has always been synonymous with history and know-how.
Alongside the river Allier, basking in the gentle colours of the town's bricks and pink sandstone, take the time to enjoy the special atmosphere to be found here. The artistic features added by the Dukes of Bourbon, the theatre costumes and private buildings and courtyards all arouse a sense of cultural curiosity, discovery and relaxation.
A rich architectural history
As a Town of Art and History, Moulins, features a number of impressive architectural heritage sites. The Cathedral of Moulins houses the famous Master of Moulins Triptych painting.
Created in 990, Moulins was the Duchy of Bourbonnais from 1327 to 1527. Today, traces of the patronage of the Dukes of Bourbon can be seen all around Moulins. The town’s guides will help you discover this impressive heritage. Enjoy a stroll through the cobbled streets of the historical old town combining timber framed houses, middle class homes and fine town houses. Discover the Chapel of the Visitation whose outstanding painted ceilings have recently been restored.
Unique museums and cultural sites
There are also several museums in Moulins, with diverse and unique collections.
Just across the square from the cathedral, is the Maison Mantin. Take a guided tour of this house, bequeathed to the town in 1905 by Louis Mantin, a wealthy middle-class citizen, so now, a century after his death, visitors can visit "a specimen middle-class residence of the 19th century". The house, frozen in time for ever, conserves the quirky collection of the master of the house.
The Musée de l'Illustration Jeunesse is Iocated in the heart of the old town in a marvellous private building dating from the 18th century. Unique in its kind, the museum is devoted to illustrations from children's books dating from the last 50 years, with something new every six months thanks to the temporary exhibitions hosted there.
Another not to be missed site in Moulins is the Centre national du costume de scène et de la scénographie (National Theatre Costume and Stage Design Centre). With a collection of 10,000 opera, theatre and ballet costumes, this centre is a shrine to costume making know-how and the creation of theatrical settings.
On the trail of Coco Chanel
The Grand Café, a café and brasserie with historic monument status, has retained its Art nouveau circa 1889 style, panelling, mirror-covered walls, clock and barometer. During the 1910s, it was here that Gabrielle Chanel, who came from Moulins, sang “Qui a vu Coco dans l’Trocadéro?” (Who has seen Coco in the Trocadero?), which is how she came to be known as Coco.
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