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The Dukes of the Bourbon castle in Montluçon
Flag of Montluçon
Coat of arms of Montluçon
Coat of arms
Montluçon is located in France
Coordinates: 46°20′27″N 2°36′12″E / 46.3408°N 2.6033°E / 46.3408; 2.6033Coordinates: 46°20′27″N 2°36′12″E / 46.3408°N 2.6033°E / 46.3408; 2.6033
Country France
Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Department Allier
Arrondissement Montluçon
Canton Montluçon-1, 2, 3 and 4
Intercommunality Montluçon
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Daniel Dugléry
Area1 20.67 km2 (7.98 sq mi)
Population (2012)2 38,072
 • Density 1,800/km2 (4,800/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
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] 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 located in the northwest of the Allier department near the frontier of the Centre and Limousin regions.

Montluçon is linked with surrounding regions and towns via four 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.


Early history[edit]

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.

The town, which formed part of the duchy of Bourbon, was taken by the English in 1171, and by Philip Augustus in 1181; the English were finally driven out in the 14th century.

In the 14th century, Louis II de Bourbon re-built the castle and walls. Montluçon and other Bourbon lands reverted to the French crown in 1529, and Henry IV further improved the defenses.

Montluçon became the administrative seat of the area in 1791, then entered the industrial era thanks to the presence of coalpits 12 km (7 mi) distant 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[edit]

During the Second World War, the Germans occupied the Dunlop tyre plant (even though Montluçon was in the free zone) to exploit the research laboratory to synthesize rubber, since natural rubber could not be imported by the Nazis. The manufacturing of tyres for Luftwaffe aircraft was also of interest for the Nazis.

For this reason, the Allies bombed the site on 12–16 September 1943, as well as part of the nearby town Saint-Victor, causing 36 deaths and injuring more than 250 civilians.

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.[1]

Post-World War II[edit]

Since 1945, traditional industry (blast furnaces and glassware) has declined. Today Montluçon has chemical industries, tyre 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 II, 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 Montluçon. The ceremony was followed by a civic reception in the town. Wake died in August 2011, aged 98.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1793 5,521 —    
1800 5,684 +3.0%
1806 5,212 −8.3%
1821 4,716 −9.5%
1831 4,991 +5.8%
1836 5,034 +0.9%
1841 5,740 +14.0%
1846 7,331 +27.7%
1851 8,922 +21.7%
1856 15,289 +71.4%
1861 16,212 +6.0%
1866 18,675 +15.2%
1872 21,247 +13.8%
1876 23,416 +10.2%
1881 26,079 +11.4%
1886 27,818 +6.7%
1891 27,878 +0.2%
1896 31,595 +13.3%
1901 35,062 +11.0%
1906 34,251 −2.3%
1911 33,799 −1.3%
1921 36,114 +6.8%
1926 37,504 +3.8%
1931 41,052 +9.5%
1936 42,515 +3.6%
1946 46,826 +10.1%
1954 48,743 +4.1%
1962 55,184 +13.2%
1968 57,871 +4.9%
1975 56,468 −2.4%
1982 49,912 −11.6%
1990 44,248 −11.3%
1999 41,362 −6.5%
2008 39,492 −4.5%
2012 38,072 −3.6%
Source: INSEE (1968–2012)



There is a small airport 30 km (19 mi) from Montluçon (Montluçon - Guéret Airport) with flights mainly for Paris, and a smaller aerodrome in Montluçon itself (Montluçon - Domérat Aerodrome). The nearest international airports are Clermont-Ferrand Airport and Limoges Airport.


Montluçon is linked to French and European road networks, by three major routes:


Montluçon-Ville railway station

The Gare de Montluçon-Ville railway station is served by three main passenger rail lines.

City buses[edit]

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.


  • The Dukes of the Bourbon castle in Montluçon, 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


International relations[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

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:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]