First of all, immerse yourself under the venerable oaks of the Tronçais state forest, which stretches north-west of the Allier over more than 10,000 hectares. This exceptional vegetal cathedral was planted in the 17th century to provide excellent quality masts for Louis XIV's navy.
Nearby, discover the rolling hills of the Bourbonnais bocage around the feudal fortress of Bourbon l'Archambault and the medieval town of Montluçon.
Campsites in the Allier
Nearly 70 campsites await you in the Allier. Rent your mobile home at a campsite in the Allier during your next holidays! We recommend the campsite Les Acacias **** in Bellerive-sur-Allier or La Croix Saint-Martin *** in Abrest, both close to Vichy, or the campsite Le Mont Libre *** in Gannat.
From the banks of the Allier to the banks of the Loire River
From south to north, the Allier, a tributary of the Loire, takes its ease by multiplying its wild meanders, punctuated by islands, nature reserves and areas for bathing and water sports.
Moulins, the capital of the Allier is the former fiefdom of the Dukes of Bourbon. Admire the rich historical past as you walk around the belfry and the cathedral, with half-timbered houses, mansions and numerous monuments. See also the unique collection of more than 10,000 costumes and theatrical props.
Cross the very pretty Besbre valley which lurks between Dompierre and le grand château de Lapalisse. This laughing landscape is marked by René Fallet's novels, including the famous Cabbage Soup. The 50 hectares of the animal and amusement park of Le Pal in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Besbre will seduce the whole family.
Not far from the banks of the Loire, the Canal de Berry, as well as a multitude of circuits and greenways allow you to enjoy superb cycling breaks.
Vineyards and the Sioule valley
Further to the west of Varennes-sur-Allier, picturesque vineyards spread out around Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule. An elegant belfry crowns the historic hillside of this flowery tourist town.
Amongst the very beautiful villages, Charroux absolutely deserves your visit. Wells, half-timbered houses, corbelled houses, bourgeois houses, cobbled streets, craftsmen's stalls, old-style mustard factory, this is the charm of old stones. La Sioule then winds its way through grandiose gorges, on the side of the perched castle of Chouvigny.
Climbing up the escarpments of the superb Colettes forest (2,000 hectares), you have splendid views over the chain of Auvergne volcanoes, from which the Puy-de-Dôme emerges.
From Vichy to the Montagne Bourbonnaise
At the gateway to the plains of Limagne, stay in Vichy, the queen of spa towns. The virtues of its waters have been known for a long time. But it was from the 19th century onwards that parks, palaces, chalets and sumptuous residences flourished, with a wide range of attractions.
Nicknamed the Switzerland of the Allier, the Bourbonnaise mountain finally welcomes you around Laprugne and Saint-Nicolas-des-Biefs. The Puy du Montoncel (1,287 m) is the panoramic high point of the Allier. At the foot of the Bois Noirs and the Monts de la Madeleine, it is a superb natural terroir, fertile in legends with the Druidic Stones, the Grotte aux Fées, the Allée des Géants. You are then a neighbour of the Puy-de-Dôme department and the volcanoes of Auvergne.