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Montluçon, a key town and gateway to the Auvergne region, has held onto its prestigious past during the age of the Bourbons at the heart of its medieval centre. In the space of a leisurely stroll the visitor will discover more than a dozen edifices listed or registered as historical monuments. In the 19th Century the industrial revolution transformed the city and the new 'Ville-Gozet' grew up. Art lovers must not miss the Art Deco architectural works of Pierre Diot. Furthermore, Montluçon is very close to the magnificent Tronçais Forest.
While conserving its prestigious past from the age of the Bourbons, Montluçon intelligently rode the wave of the industrial revolution before resolutely embracing a new era.
From the height of the esplanade of the castle of the Dukes of Bourbon, travellers can contemplate the whole of the town. They will see the old town full of ancient treasures nestled in the meanders of the River Cher, around which a modern town has sprung up. 'Ville Gozet', the new town, is concrete evidence of the industrial revolution. Montluçon has held onto the reminders of its past while adapting to the changes of the contemporary world.
The castle of the Dukes of Bourbon built in 1370 overlooks the town; today it is home to the Museum of Popular Music. Montluçon has also conserved remarkable testimonies of the patronage of the Dukes of Bourbon in its churches and for this fact alone it deserves its label of 'town of Art'. The district of Saint-Pierre and its half-timbered houses, its 12th century Romanesque church or the remarkable ‘Maison des Douze Apôtres' (House of the Twelve Apostles) transport the visitor back through the centuries into the old Montluçon. In the 19th century the Industrial Revolution transformed the town of Montluçon: its population doubled leading to the creation of the new town, 'Ville Gozet'. Nor should the visitor miss La Louvière Castle, a copy of the Petit Trianon at Versailles, which is used for temporary exhibitions. Art enthusiasts will enjoy the art deco architecture of Pierre Diot and the modern art collection, which includes some of the finest work by contemporary artists and is displayed in one of the most beautiful halls in Auvergne. Festive events have not been overlooked. Two major events stand out as examples of the joie de vivre in Montluçon: the Boeuf-Villé carnival in the spring and the medieval festival once every two years. What a line up!
From Montluçon visitors can set off to explore the nearby Tronçais Forest, one of the most magnificent expanses of forest in France. Some of the oak trees, which began life 350 years ago, are still around today, often because their shape prevented them from being cut down for their wood. The 40-metre high trunks produced by some 250 years of growth mean that the leafy canopy is as high as a cathedral. The forest retains a rare atmosphere and a truly impressive majesty.