Châteaux and Castles
At one time, in the Middle Ages, the Pays d’Issoire hills were crowned with impressive fortresses. These buildings, both noble residences and military structures, have left their mark on all the region.
The castles built in the Middle Ages have left behind many traces. Today completely or partially destroyed, they are mentioned in Revel’s 15th century Armorial d’Auvergne: Vodable, Nonette, Champeix, Usson… These castles played a historic role in connection with the families of the Counts and Dauphins of Auvergne. Due to their strategic importance, Usson and Nonette were more directly controlled by the kings of France. Some of the fortresses can still be visited: Saint-Floret (with a rare painted depiction of the story of Tristan and Iseult dating from the 14th century), Chalus (a 13th century keep and seigniorial corps de logis), Saint-Gervazy and the Hôtel d’Aureilhe in Villeneuve. The sites of Champeix, Nonette and Usson still have the remains of these medieval fortifications. Don’t miss a visit to the Montpeyroux keep, dating from the early 13th century.
Village forts, built by villagers
To visit these châteaux and forts, don’t miss our driving circuit "Castles and village forts in Pays d’Issoire".
At the end of the Middle Ages, in turbulent times, villagers turned their villages into fortified refuges. Towers, fortified gates and ramparts were built to protect residential districts, with houses packed together along narrow streets. Some forty villages in Pays d’Issoire were concerned by such developments, and Ardes, Mareugheol, Le Broc, Boudes, Sauvagnat, Chadeleuf, Neschers, Meilhaud, Bansat, Pardines and Plauzat still have highly visible traces of them.
After the era of castles, magnificent châteaux were later built in Pays d’Issoire: the château of Villeneuve-Lembron, built by Rigaud d’Aureille, who worked for several kings of France; Parentignat known as “the little Versailles of Auvergne” and Hauterive in Issoire, with gardens open to the public.