Castle of Montluçon
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Daniel Dugléry|
|• Land1||20.67 km2 (7.98 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||1,900/km2 (4,900/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||03185 / 03100|
|Elevation||194–364 m (636–1,194 ft)
(avg. 207 m or 679 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Montluçon (French: [mɔ̃.ly.sɔ̃] ; Occitan: Montluçon) is a commune in central France on the Cher river. It is the largest commune in the Allier department, although the department's préfecture is located in the smaller town of Moulins. Its inhabitants are known as Montluçonnais. The town is in the traditional province of Bourbonnais and was part of the mediaeval duchy of Bourbon.
Montluçon is linked with surrounding regions and towns via 4 main road axes, plus the highway A71 from Orléans to Clermont-Ferrand; through a railway linking in the North Vierzon then Paris (3-5h). Formerly the canal de Berry linked Montluçon towards the north.
Montluçon is 106 kilometres (66 miles) south of Bourges, 340 km (211 miles) from Paris, 95 km (59 mi) from Clermont-Ferrand, 280 km (174 mi) (3h) from Lyon, 150 km (93 mi) (2h) from Limoges and 400 km (249 mi) from the Atlantic coast.
Montluçon is close to the Méridienne verte (an architectural project marking the Paris meridian) and to the Greenwich meridian.
Montluçon was built in the Middle Ages. The first mention of a place called Monte Lucii (Mont de Lucius) dates from the eleventh century. Guillaume, son of Archambaud IV of Bourbon, built the castle in a defensible position on a small rocky hill on a bend in the Cher River.
Montluçon became the administrative seat of the area in 1791, then entered the industrial revolution thanks to the presence of coalpits at 12 km (7 mi) in Commentry, the (Canal de Berry in 1830 and the railway in 1864. These transport links allowed the import of ore and export of coal, wood and manufactured goods. The population grew from 5000 inhabitants in 1830 to 50 000 in 1950.
World War II
During the Second World War, the Germans occupied the Dunlop tire plant (even though Montluçon was in the free zone) to exploit the research lab to synthesize rubber, since natural rubber could not be imported by the Nazis. The manufacturing of tires for Luftwaffe aircraft was also of interest for the Nazis.
A notable act of resistance occurred in the city on January 6, 1943 when a mob of citizens overran guards supervising a massive deportation of men to Germany in accordance with the Service de Travail Obligatoire (Obligatory Work Service) plan that sent able Frenchmen to fill vacancies in German factories during the war. All the men who were to be deported managed to escape into the countryside, evading the forced industrial service awaiting them in the Reich.
Since 1945, traditional industry (blast furnaces and glassware) has declined. Today Montluçon has chemical industries, tire manufacture (Dunlop), and electronics (Sagem), and more recently a technopole at La Loue was established for high-tech companies.
New Zealand-born Australian Nancy Wake, the most decorated woman of World War Two, led her small army of resistance fighters in the countryside around Montlucon. On March 11, 2013 Nancy Wake's ashes were scattered in a small wood outside Montlucon. The ceremony was followed by a civic reception in the town. Nancy Wake died in August 2011, aged 98.
Air Transport There is a small airport 30 km (19 mi) from Montluçon (Montluçon - Guéret Airport) with flights mainly for Paris, and a smaller aerodrome one in Montluçon itself (Montluçon - Domérat Aerodrome). The nearest international airports are Clermont-Ferrand Airport and Limoges Airport.
Road Transport Montluçon is linked to French and European road networks, by three major routes:
- the highway A71 from Orléans to Clermont-Ferrand.
- the national route to Clermont-Ferrand (E11) and to Bourges/Vierzon
- the E62/RN145 joinging Limoges to Moulins
The Gare de Montluçon-Ville railway station is served by three main passenger rail lines.
- 'Montluçon - Bourges - Vierzon - Paris' (fastest travel time to Paris: 3h08)
- 'Montluçon - Gannat - Clermont Ferrand'
- 'Montluçon - Guéret - Saint-Sulpice-Laurière - Limoges' (on the Lyon-Bordeaux line)
City Buses - Montluçon's local buses are run by Maelis.
The upper town, on the right bank of the Cher, consists of steep, narrow, winding streets, and preserves several buildings of the 15th and 16th centuries. The lower town, traversed by the Cher, is the industrial zone.
The church of Notre-Dame dates from the fourteenth century, the church of St Pierre partly from the 12th. The town hall, with a library, occupies the site of an old Ursuline convent, and two other convents are used as a college and hospital. Overlooking the town is the castle rebuilt by Louis II, Duke of Bourbon, and taken by Henry IV during the French Wars of Religion; it serves as a barracks.
- Le château des ducs de Bourbon, dating from the 13th and 14th centuries
- Church of Notre-Dame, XVe
- Church of Saint-Pierre, XIIe
- Church of Saint-Paul, XIXe
- Church of Sainte-Thérèse, XXe
- Church of Saint-Martin, XXe
- Church of Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc, built in 1966
- Temple de l'Eglise Réformée de France, (1888)
- Tour des forges (or 'tour fondue'), XIIe siècle
- Crown, XIIe
- Maison des Douze apôtres du XIIe
- Museum of popular musiques
- Town Hall, XIXe
- Ancienne chapelle Saint-Louis
- Passage du doyenné
- Castle la Louvière
- Castle de Bien-Assis
- Canal de Berry: locks, canal bridge
- Musée des Musiques Populaires
- Théâtre Municipal Gabrielle Robinne
Twin towns – Sister cities
Montluçon is twinned with:
Administration: Montluçon is a sub-prefecture and has courts, a board of trade arbitration, a chamber of commerce and several schools (general public, private, commercial).
Montluçon was the birthplace of:
- Françoise Bonnet (born 1957), a long-distance runner and Olympic athlete
- Jules Cluzel (born 1988), a motorcycle Grand Prix road racer
- Marx Dormoy (1888–1941), a politician
- Jehan (born 1957), a songwriter
- André Messager (1853–1929), a composer
- Moise Rimbon (born 1977), a mixed martial arts fighter
- Gabrielle Robinne (1886-1980), a stage and film actress
- Florian Vachon (born 1985), a professional road bicycle racer
- Jean Val Jean (born 1980), an adult film actor
- Bernadette Vergnaud (born 1950), a French politician and Member of the European Parliament
- Roger Walkowiak (born 1927), a cyclist, winner of the 1956 Tour de France
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- John F. Sweets, Choices in Vichy France, (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1994): 25.
- Montluçon, les villes jumelles se font une place sur les panneaux », lamontagne.fr, 28 October 2010
- Antsirabe... Sous le signe de la féminité ... », madagate.com, 6 August 2008
- Town council website (in French)
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