You’ll succumb to the charm of Loire Forez, a destination full of authenticity and stunning views. Between the Loire Gorges and the Hautes Chaumes plateaus of the Monts du Forez massif, you’ll enjoy the tranquillity of nature as you explore the great outdoors and villages full of character. Here you’ll find everything you need for a memorable holiday with your partner, family or friends.
The gorges of the Loire
Several kilometres from its source between Velay and Plaine du Forez, the Loire River has shaped stunning gorges that will leave you speechless. 4,000 hectares of rocky escarpments, sandy stretches, and steep forests offer unspoilt authenticity. With Natura 2000 status, this is a land with an abundance of flora and fauna, rich in its astonishing diversity. The view across this landscape, sculpted by the river is, quite simply, stunning! It can be fully taken in from the roof terrace of the Château d’Essalois, or from the top of the Donjon de Chambles.
The “Tour Matagrin”
It is the highest point in the monts du Lyonnais (1,004 m above sea level). A 360° viewpoint at the top of the tower. Direct pedestrian access from the picnic area. Shop selling local products, refreshment bar and point of information during the summer period.
Built in 1876, the tower was used as a hunting lodge and then became a bar where people could dance. After the Liberation, the Air Force removed its roof. In the fifties, a Hertzian tower was built nearby.
The Hautes Chaumes
Between sky and land, the horizon stretches as far as the eye can see… Do you long to lose yourself in infinite vastness? Head for the summits of the Monts du Forez. There, between 1,400 and 1,642 metres in altitude, you’ll be amazed! The vast plateau covered in moorland that stretches north to south has an unreal quality, as if it’s suspended in the air. Everywhere you look, the panoramas are stunning. To the east lies the Plaine du Forez, the Monts du Lyonnais and you can sometimes even see the Alps. To the west is the Vallée de la Dore, the Puy-de-Dôme and Sancy.
The thermal waters
In the 19th century, France during the Belle Époque fell in love with spa towns… and Forez was no exception! Even today,
Montrond-les-Bains provides its experience in terms of wellbeing. Their special treatments include the therapeutic cures in the thermal baths of Montrond which will allow you to enjoy the benefits of the thermal spring with the Geysers. As for relaxation,
Les Iléades off er baths and a spa to relax after a walk on the banks of the Loire or a visit to the castle. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and release the pressure…
About a thousand years ago, in the place where the mountains join the plain, the idea to create a city was born. The counts who ruled Forez at the time designed the outline of the town. The historic centre, which has the largest concentration of listed monuments in the department, can be discovered on foot. Take the time to stroll, before relaxing on a terrace in the shade of the plane trees. A top tip: Saturday is a good day to stop in Montbrison. It’s market day, and the market was voted best in France in 2019! The town is lively and filled with the colours and fragrances of local produce. Your taste-buds will remember the experience.
A land of weavers, a land of excellency
Hemp, flax, silk… Foréziens have always been able to recognize the sound of weaving looms. Over the centuries, generations of weavers have succeeded in our villages to keep their craftsmanship alive. It is certain: if the biggest fashion houses still source from the textile factories and workshops of the Forez region, it is no coincidence!
Our charming picturesque villages
Champdieu, Marols, Montarcher, Saint-Bonnet-leChâteau, Sauvain…As you walk through the century old passageways, you understand why each of them has earned an award title. At the turn of the cobbled streets the architectural treasures await. Old medieval strongholds, high places of Romanesque art,
breathtaking panoramas: come and bear witness to the rich heritage of the Loire.
The hat museum and workshop
The Atelier-Musée du Chapeau [hat museum and workshop] welcomes you to La Chapellerie. Come and see the last of the great milliners in Chazelles-sur-Lyon, restored as a factory museum to revive the creative spirit.
The Bâtie d’Urfé, one of Forez’s heritage treasures
The Forez region is inspirational to writers. It was central to L’Astrée, the “novel of novels”, written in the 17th century by Honoré d’Urfé. This author lived in the Renaissance Chateau of Bâtie d’Urfé, with its gardens for day dreaming. For a complete immersion into the novel, take the “Chemins de l’Astrée” path along the River Lignon, and pause at the Priory of Montverdun, at the Château de Goutelas, and at the educational ponds at the Réserve de Biterne and the Ecopôle du Forez.
The Volerie du Forez, an impressive bird park
When passing Marcilly-le-Châtel, don’t miss a stop at this fortress with its black stone, standing above the vines. You may even see a few birds of prey circling the castle towers. Why not take a closer look? People are always attracted by the height: there’s a spectacular panorama from the top, take a breath of fresh air while walking through the vineyards and there’s guaranteed laughter during the Volerie du Forez shows.