QR Vic-le-Comte – Bourg 12
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
A romantic reverie
Parc Montcervier is located in the area known as « les Pares Blanches ». It was originally agricultural land located outside of the town. In 1882, a very old family from Forez, the Du Vernin family, who had lived in Vic-le-Comte since the 16th century, decided to build a château, a farm and a wooded park. This château is one of several residences that were sold off-plan in the late 19th century. You can spot these large bourgeois houses by their common architecture and the materials they were built from. White stone from the Loire Valley was typically used for this type of building. The property then was given the name Montcervier.
An English Garden
The park is typical of the 19th century and is inspired by the style of the English garden: it has winding paths leading to picturesque views that a painter would happily set to capturing. The aim, as with a painting, was to achieve a balance of volumes. Local or exotic trees – Giant Sequoia, Atlas, Himalayan or Lebanese Cedar, Lawson Cypress, Chamoecyparis, Paulownia – were used to create a variety of harmonious colours along with botanical curiosities of the time.
A pond with a water feature at the rear of the château is supplied by a spring located in the commune of Pignols through a gravity-based system of pipes, Pignols being at a higher altitude than the centre of Vic-le-Comte. The garden was also designed to mimic a wild landscape. A woodland atmosphere recalling the proximity of the county’s woods, with numerous lime trees and some oak trees. A number of rare and protected herbaceous species have become established here over time.
From castle to public park
In 1945, the château was used for a time as a holding centre for deportees returning from the camps. In 1947, the Du Vernin family sold the property to the education authority in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, and it became a holiday camp. The mayor of the 4th arrondissement was none other than Jean Mouly, a native of the area. In 1974, the property was bought by the commune of Vic-le-Comte then leased to the CEMEA, an education and training centre for educators. However, on 11 March 1982, the château caught fire and burnt down. The ruins were unsalvageable, the limestone ashlars having burst due to the heat. In 1985, it was decided to raze the ruins and open the park to the public. Since then, everyone has been able to enjoy the wonderful, poetic garden.