Welcome to Auvergne

Activities & Leisure

Whether you're travelling alone, with family or with a partner, Château d’Ygrande has a range of leisure activities for guests of all ages, all year round.

You're sure to find something to suit your tastes within the stunning 40-hectare grounds or in the surrounding area.

The Allier is a Bourbonnais region that is bursting with activities and attractions. In fact, there's so much to do in this stunning, clean, peaceful land that you'll need to come back time and again to fit everything in.

Activities include relaxation, spa treatments, swimming, walking, cycling, horse-riding, cookery lessons, exploring the rich Bourbonnais heritage (Romanesque churches, abbeys, medieval châteaux) and its remarkable gardens, several theme parks and leisure parks, the Saint-Pourçain vineyards and local produce, walks through Europe's most stunning oak forest, and numerous listed villages.

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Activities & Leisure at the Château (on-site and off-site)

  • Heated pool
    (open June to September)

    The pool is tucked away in the gardens, surrounded by the orchard, the vegetable garden and the vast lawns where you can relax in the sunshine.

    Unsupervised pool, reserved for hotel guests only.

    Baignade sans surveillance, accès gratuit réservé aux clients de l’hôtel.
  • Walks in the grounds of the Château

    The grounds span 40 hectares and are criss-crossed with footpaths that pass through the woods and meadows, taking visitors to the boundaries of the property towards the fishing lake.

  • Steam room, treatments and massages

    Guests have access to the wellness area on the first floor. The treatments and massages are delivered by highly skilled professionals. The facility also includes a steam room for the ultimate in relaxation.
    Advance booking required at reception.
    Prices: €99 for a one-hour treatment, €20 per person for a private 20-minute steam room session.

  • Self-service bicycles

    Guests can use the bicycles available on site free of charge. Contact reception for information.
    Also see the "cycling tourism" activity.

  • Educational vegetable garden

    The educational vegetable garden is our project for the future. Our gardeners are on-hand to answer your questions and teach you about the joys of growing your own food.
    Guests can try produce from the orchards between June and October.

  • Library: art books, novels, comic books

    The library boasts an extensive collection of works, including art books, novels, crime fiction and comic books. All books are available for guest use.

  • Music room, atmosphere and open fireplaces

    These bright, comfortable rooms are set against a backdrop of classical and jazz music. And when summer finally makes way for autumn, the open fireplaces are lit to keep the premises warm.

  • Billiards

    A French billiards table can be found on the first floor, and is open until 11 pm.

  • Balneotherapy and wellness
    (Bourbon L'Achambault thermal baths)

    The sumptuous thermal baths at Bourbon L'Achambault (7 km away), with their exquisite earthenware and wooden décor, are the perfect place to recharge your batteries, with restorative baths, hydro-massage showers, high-pressure jets, steam baths, etc.

Activities & Leisure for all the family (on-site and off-site)

Hand-guided pony ride (on-site)

Younger guests can explore the château grounds in the saddle, on a pony guided by a halter.
For information and booking, contact:

Annabelle Fréby, tel 06 61 98 63 41 or haras.ygrande@bbox.fr

Horse-riding for beginners (on-site)

Have you never ridden a horse before but always wanted to try? Now you can, in a fully safe and secure environment.
Book your beginners' lesson with:

Mademoiselle Annabelle Fréby, tel 06 61 98 63 41 ou haras.ygrande@bbox.fr

The PAL (Dompierre-sur-Besbre)

The PAL is a theme park and zoo in one, set among unique grounds of 50 hectares. It is one of France's most popular destinations, with 26 permanent attractions and 600 animals, some of whom live in free range conditions.

Open from 11 April to 27 September 2015.

Le Pal, Saint-Pourçain-sur-Besbre, 03290, Dompierre-sur-Besbre

Tel. +33 (0)4 70 42 68 10



Vulcania (Saint-Ours-les-Roches)

Head to the Auvergne Volcanoes, explore the mysteries of the Earth and learn what lies beneath our feet. Get ready to experience the awesome power of volcanoes and the forces of nature through animations, attractions, 3D and 5D films and dynamic platforms.

Open from 25 March to 11 November 2015

Route de Mazayes, 63230, Saint-Ours-les-Roches

Tel. +33 (0)4 73 19 70 00


Parc Paléopolis (Gannat)

A theme park dedicated to palaeontology and the history of life on Earth. Under the presidency of Yves Coppens, an exhibition, outdoor attractions, a cinema and children's workshops, taking visitors on a fascinating voyage through the history of life.
Open from 1 April

Chazoux, route de Bègues, 03800 Gannat

Tel 04 70 90 16 00



Vélorail (Noyant d’Allier)

Take an unusual journey (1 hour 45 minutes) on a "vélorail" (cycle rail) through the Bourbonnais countryside and the former coal mines, and enjoy an unspoilt view of the magnificent Messarges lake from the top of the viaduct.
Open from 1 April to 30 October.
Booking required.

Réservations obligatoires.

Vélorail du Bourbonnais, rue de la Gare, 03210 Noyant d’Allier

Tel 06 82 71 42 65



Culture & Heritage

Cultural activities

National Centre of Costume and Scenography (Moulins)

National Centre of Costume and Scenography (CNCS) is the world's first conservation facility entirely dedicated to preserving the heritage of theatres and opera houses.
Permanent exhibition: Nureyev collection.
Temporary exhibition: "L’Opéra Comique", 7 February to 25 May 2015
Open daily, 10 am to 6 pm

CNCS, Quartier Villars, Route de Montilly, 03000 Moulins

Tel 04 70 20 76 20



Anne of France Museum

The Anne of France Museum is housed in the leading French Renaissance monument. It holds classical archaeology collections, Bourbonnais medieval sculptures, Moulins decorative art from the 18th century and paintings from the 19th century.
Open all year round, Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 6 pm, Sunday and public holidays: 2 pm to 6 pm

3 Place du Colonel Laussedat, 03000 Moulins

Tel 04 70 2 48 47



Maison de Mantin (Moulins)

The mysterious Maison de Mantin is named after the man who built and owned it in the 19th century. He wanted to leave his house to future visitors, and it reopened its doors for the very first time in 2010, some 100 years after his death.
It contains incredible golden leather items, Aubusson tapestries, and ancient stained glass windows that cast incredible light into each room.
Open all year round, 10 am to 12:30 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm, except Monday and Sunday morning

Place du Colonel Laussedat, 03000 Moulins

Tel 04 70 20 48 47



Emille Guillaumin Museum (Ygrande)

The exhibition tells the story of the "peasant writer" Emille Guillaumin (1873-1951), the first writer to defend the cause of the peasant class. The museum displays his works and recounts his daily life.
Open from 1 May to 30 September, 3 pm to 6 pm on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Les Vignes, 03160 Ygrande

Tel 04 70 6 37 90 ou 04 70 66 30 66

Village of Charroux

The ancient fortified city of Charroux lies to the south of the department and is recognised as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France". The summit of its hill provides commanding views over the magnificent 15th-18th century façades, narrow pedestrian streets and small squares, arranged around a well.
Artisan produce, including the famous Charroux mustard.

Office de Tourisme : 20 rue Grande, 03140 Charroux

Tel 04 70 56 87 71


Villages of Charroux and Verneuil-en-Bourbonnais

This charming, picturesque village is located near the Saint-Pourçain vineyards and still has some remains of its castle. Stunning ancient houses. Clothes Iron Museum!
Tourist office: Rue des Remparts

Tel 04 70 35 26 25

Explore the region's heritage

Fortress of Bourbon l’Archambault

This medieval fortress has just three of its original towers remaining. The so-called "Qui qu’en grogne" tower is perched on a headland overlooking the picturesque town of Bourbon l’Archambault.
Take a step back in time with a guide in traditional dress and explore life at the castle in the Middle Ages. Magnificent views from the top of the towers.
Open from 15 February to 11 November, 2 pm to 6 pm

Tel : 04 70 67 02 30



Sound and light shows in summer. Information : 06 78 60 28 99

Château de La Palice (Lapalisse)

A stunning 12th to 16th century edifice, impressive due to its size and its position over looking the Besbre river in the centre of the town. Tour of the inside and the gardens.
Open from April to November, 9 am to 3 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm.

Tel 04 70 99 37 58


Château de Boszt (Besson)

This is one of the last châteaux in the Bourbonnais that belongs to the descendants of the Bourbons. Built at the advent of the classical style, the inside of the château is closed to visitors but it is worth viewing from the outside.

Château de Fontariol (Le Thiel)

This small, late 15th-century château is open to visitors, with a guided tour given by the owner. Yet this is anything but a stately manor – come and explore the more colourful side of a château's history!

Fontariol, 03240 Le Theil

Tel 04 70 42 33 72


Château de Meillant (near Saint-Amand-Montrond)

The Château de Meillant is the jewel of the Berry, and an iconic piece of flamboyant Gothic architecture. It is fully furnished, and the most sumptuous of its 90 rooms are open to visitors. Its layout, decoration and furniture are truly remarkable.
Open from 1 March to 15 November, 10 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 6 pm.

Château de Meillant, 18200 Meillant

Tel 02 48 63 32 05

Château de l’Augère (Agonges)

The château is near Apremont, the picturesque "village of 13 châteaux", and is open all year round for guided tours by the owner, including the inside, outbuildings (small museum dedicated to hunting with hounds), gardens and grounds.
Open weekends in May, June, September and October, and 7 days a week in July and August.

L’Augère, 03210 Agonges

Tel 04 70 43 95 56


Fortress and gardens of Ainay-le Vieil (Ainay-le-Vieil)

The 14th-century Château d’Ainay-le-Vieil is the only château owned by Jacques Coeur that is now open to visitors. It features a main gate, ramparts with a wall walk and nine towers, and accommodation. Stunning gardens.
Open from 1 March to 15 November, closed on Tuesdays except for April to September, 10 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 6 pm

Tel 02 48 63 50 03

Souvigny Abbey (Souvigny)

This remarkable Cluniac priory is located in the centre of the medieval town of Souvigny. Explore the recently renovated Church of St Pierre St Paul with its royal tombs, the priory gardens (French formal gardens, with rare vegetable varieties, and medicinal and aromatic plants) and the Musée du Pays de Souvigny.

Tel 04 70 43 99 75


Noirlac Abbey (Saint-Amand-Montrond)

Noirlac Abbey was built by monks in the 12th century, and its minimalist architectural style reflects the asceticism practised by the Cistercian order. Major restoration work completed in the 20th century.
Open from March to December, 10 am to 6:30 pm, closed in the mornings in March and November/December.

Noirlac, 18200 Bruère-Allichamps

Tel 02 48 62 01 01



Saint-Pourçain vineyards

The Saint-Pourçain vineyard was awarded the AOC (controlled designation of origin) label a few years ago, and produces white wines (Trésailler, Sauvignon and Chardonnay), red wines (Gamay and Pinot Noir), rosé wines and wines made using traditional methods. The 630 hectares of vineyards are managed by 20 wine-makers and a cooperative cellar.
Examples of cellars open to visitors:

Famille Laurent :Montifaud, 03500 Saulcet, tel 04 70 45 90 41

Domaine de Bellevue : Bellevue, 03500 Meillard, tel 04 70 42 05 56

Domaine Grobost-Barbara : Montjournal, 03500 Cesset tel 04 70 45 39 92

Garden and medieval village of Apremont (Apremont)

A small, uniform, medieval village on the banks of the Allier, were the quarry-workers lived and worked. Recognised as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France".
The "Jardin Remarquable" is a floral garden with mixed borders, shrubs and perennial plants with white flowers, a spectacular row of wisteria, and small decorative constructions (Chinese, Turkish and Russian).
Open from 5 April to 30 September

Apremont, 18150 Apremont

Tel 02 48 80 25 76



Brasserie du Lavoir, ouverte d’avril à septembre

Orsan Priory and gardens (Orsan)

Orsan Priory was founded in the 12th century and contains traditional cloistered gardens that were entirely recreated in a modern style in 1993. It features woven beds, fences and gazebos that create enclosed spaces and mazes and celebrate the art of gardening.

Prieuré Notre Dame d’Orsan, 18170 Maisonnais

Tel 02 48 56 27 50



Lunch available on-site.

Arboretum de Balaine (Villeneuve-sur-Allier)

The Arboretum de Balaine combines the structure of 19th-century English formal gardens and collections of exotic plant species.
Open access to the grounds and gardens. Remarkable trees: unique species of conifers and broad-leaved trees.
Trees and shrubs for sale on-site. Fête des Plantes: third weekend in April.
Open daily from 1 March to 30 November, 9 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 7 pm

Château et Arboretum de Balaine, 03460 Villeneuve sur Allier

Tel 04 70 43 30 07



Vichy: thermal baths, a unique atmosphere and luxury shops

Vichy is the Allier's most popular tourist destination, with thermal baths, sumptuous buildings, parks and gardens, opera house, racecourse and luxury boutiques that give it the air of a continental French Riviera.

Office de tourisme : 04 7 98 71 94


Sports & Nature


Horse-riding at the Ecuries du Château d’Ygrande horse stables (riding, lessons and courses in show-jumping and dressage).

The Haras du Château d’Ygrande stud farm is open to visitors who wish to ride, take a beginner's lesson or practise their show-jumping or dressage skills.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday morning.
For information and booking, contact:

Annabelle Fréby, tel 06 61 98 63 41 or haras.ygrande@bbox.fr

Val de Cher golf course

A magnificent 18-hole golf course, part of which is contained with the grounds of the Château de Nassigny. Total length: 5275 m, par 70. Hire of equipment, trolley and buggy. Beginner and advanced lessons and courses. Practice. Club house and food available.
Open all year round.

Golf club du Val de Cher, 1 route du Vallon, 03190 Nassigny

Tel 04 70 06 71 15



Routes and trails

Tronçais Forest: the finest oak tree forest in Europe. Undergrowth trails searching for large animals (stags, does, bucks, wild boar).

Tronçais Forest is the ideal place for short walks. It covers 11,000 hectares and is one of France's largest forests. It is famous for its ancient oaks, providing stave mill operators with the finest-quality 40-metre, 250-year-old logs, which are used to manufacture the world's most famous wine barrels: the "Tronçais".

A range of maps and routes are available, allowing you to set off and explore one of the forest's 40 fountains, walk around one of its many lakes, or gather mushrooms (when in season).

Mushrooms and deer rutting in season

Walkers can venture into the depths of the Tronçais Forest in search of large animals. In autumn, the entire forest reverberates to the cries of deer during the rutting season. At dawn and dusk, you may even catch sight of the deer in the flesh.
It is a truly captivating spectacle, with raucous cries that tear through the half-light, the trembling leaves, the scent of moss and brief glimpses of the animals through the trees (not recommended for young children).

Walks in the Gorges de la Sioule

Walkers can venture into the depths of the Tronçais Forest in search of large animals. In autumn, the entire forest reverberates to the cries of deer during the rutting season. At dawn and dusk, you may even catch sight of the deer in the flesh.
It is a truly captivating spectacle, with raucous cries that tear through the half-light, the trembling leaves, the scent of moss and brief glimpses of the animals through the trees (not recommended for young children).

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