QR Vic-le-Comte – Bourg 0
Welcome to the capital of the county of Auvergne
The name Vic (Vicus) may suggest that a market town existed there as early as Gallo-Roman times. In the 8th century, the Benedictine monks of Manglieu established a priory there. But it was the counts of Auvergne who gave the town its renown.
The counts, very powerful after the fall of the Carolingian Empire, had the military resources to break their allegiance to the King of France in favour of the King of England. This displeased Philippe-Auguste, who dispossessed them of their large fiefdoms in Limagne in 1213. Vic-le-Comte, protected by its ring of castles (Busséol, Coppel, Mercurol, Buron, etc.), was the only major town remaining to them. So they made it their capital between the 13th and 15th centuries.
But it was in the 16th century that Vic-le-Comte became prosperous. The county fell to Jean Stuart, a descendant of the kings of Scotland. He transformed the counts’ austere residence into a magnificent palace, adding a holy chapel and an elegant French Renaissance building that we invite you to discover.
The town has also preserved its ancestral charm with elegant squares, pretty fountains, timber-framed houses and numerous other remains that remind us of the erstwhile presence of the counts of Auvergne.
1. The Place Saint-Jean
2. Henry and Simone Blum
3. Place de l’Olme
4. The Robin Gate
5. 110 creatures: the Sainte-Chapelle cornice
7. The Place du Vieux Marché
8. The timber-framed houses
9. The Wine Cellar
10. The Convent of the Ladies of Fontevraud
11. The Town Hall
12. Montcervier Park
13. Setelle Park and Gardens
Place de la République
A suburb of the count’s town
The former Place du Jeu de Paume, now Place de la République, was originally located outside the town, along the city walls. It is thought that the residents of the count’s palace would meet there to play Jeu de Paume, like the street’s name, known in English as real tennis, the forbear of the very famous game.
The chapel of Notre-Dame de Pitié was a small shrine located to the west of the square. There are records of it from as far back as the 14th century. Inside was a 16th-century Virgin of Pity in polychrome wood. This is now housed in the church of Saint John the Baptist.
The chapel of Notre-Dame de Pitié was destroyed in 1792 during the French Revolution. In its place, a tree of liberty was planted… then cut down by refractory conscripts in 1798!
- Virgin of Pity in the church of Saint John the Baptist
The Halle du Jeu de Paume
In 1875, a corn exchange was built. It was a busy trading place until the beginning of the 20th century. It was replaced in 1935 by the village hall, the upper part of the north façade of which is decorated with bas-relief figures. The pediment is decorated with the town’s coat of arms and the French Republic monogram. Wheat, grapes, sunflowers and fruit evoke the richness of the soil. The river Allier and a swimming salmon are also evoked.
The village hall played an important role in local life, with brass band concerts on Easter Sunday and conscript balls and society dances, where people would dance, drink and have fun. The village hall was renovated in 2002 and renamed the « Halle du Jeu de Paume ».
- The Place de la République in the early 20th century. Behind the fountain stands the old corn exchange.
L’Été by Mathurin Moreau
Nearby is a beautiful, elaborate fountain, built in 1875. The statue, built atop the fountain dating from 1875, is an allegory of summer. The young man holding a sickle in his right hand and a rake in his left, before a wheat sheaf, is a work by Mathurin Moreau (1822-1912). The Dijon artist learnt sculpture in his father’s studio, the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Moreau, before studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1842, he won the second Prix de Rome with his work Diomedes Stealing the Palladium. In 1848, he made a name for himself at the Salon des artistes français by exhibiting Elegy, a statue of great finesse. Moreau’s brilliant career saw him win several awards and numerous official commissions, which he executed in an academic style, favouring allegories and genre scenes.
Between 1849 and 1879, he created around a hundred models (statues, fountains and decorative objects) for the Val d’Osne art foundry in Haute-Marne, of which he was a director. The foundry
became the largest producer of cast iron art in France, winning international acclaim at the 1851 Universal Exhibition in London. Today, Mathurin Moreau is the most widespread French sculptor in the world, particularly in Latin America. In addition to Vic-le-Comte, the Été statue can be found in Ortona dei Marsi in Italy, Lota in Chile, Asunción in Paraguay, Santiago de Chile and in the grounds of the Usachev-Naydenov Estate in Moscow.