The Allier is full of activities of all kinds! So let’s go to this French area to discover the 14 best things to do in Allier.
The Allier is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and has as its capital the city of Moulins. The department corresponds to the Duchy of Bourbon, the former province of the Kingdom of France.
There, the House of Bourbon gives its letters of nobility to this place, which will become the Allier after the Revolution. No more history lessons, and let’s move on to the visit to the Allier!
Already, thanks to its diverse geography, the Allier is an ideal place to go hiking or practice an outdoor sport. Also, thanks to its two rivers (the Allier and the Sioule), swimming and water activities are added to the list.
Finally, the Allier has charming towns and pretty villages sometimes classified, which testify to a rich historical and cultural heritage. So, seduced? We detail this in our guide to all the best things to do in the Allier!
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The 14 Best Things To Do in Allier
1. The Pal
This zoological park, which also became an amusement park, is an essential step to do in the Allier. Located in the town of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Besbe, Le Pal has more than thirty attractions, including four roller coasters, and six water rides. To the delight of the 640,000 visitors a year! In addition to the thrills, you can approach the animals in the zoo part.
Indeed, Le Pal has many species, sometimes rare or threatened. Thus, you can greet Asian elephants, red pandas, but also giraffes, crocodiles, and some tigers, to name but a few… Don’t forget to attend the shows and the animal feeding!
2. Tronçais Forest
Photo credit: Wikipedia – Clame Reporter
This forest is one of the most beautiful in Europe! Indeed, the Tronçais is famous for its forest of large old oaks, also known as “Colbert forest” in reference to the former minister of Louis XIV. For the anecdote, the latter is at the origin of its development in 1670.
So put on your sneakers, and let’s go to discover the incredible fauna and flora of the area. There, during your hike, you may have the chance to discover springs (the “fonts”), and some ponds. Or even forest art, with sculptures of oak trunks. And if you’re even luckier, you can even spot beautiful deer!
Go to Moulins, the splendid capital of the Dukes of Bourbon, and visit every corner! This city to visit in the Allier is full of cultural, artistic, and architectural riches. First, go to its famous Centre National du Costume de Scène, the first institution dedicated to theatrical material heritage. There, you can admire more than 10,000 stage costumes and other treasures.
You can also discover an ongoing exhibition in a space of 1,500 square meters. After your getaway to the CNCS, stroll through Moulins and lose yourself in the middle of the old houses. Take a look at the Chapel of the Visitation or the Maison Mantin.
4. The Guards’ Lodge
If you run away from boredom and enjoy various and varied outdoor activities, then head to the Guards’ Lodge. This leisure park is a must to do in the Allier! Indeed, thanks to its mountain bike, quad, rollerblading trails, but also its zip lines, and summer toboggan runs, the sensations are at the rendezvous.
In addition, if you spend time in the area, do not hesitate to try the Mountainboard, a surf on land, and the bob-tubby, a buoy that will make you hurtle down grass slopes. Also, the Loge des Gardes is a ski resort in winter, especially suitable for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Paleontology lovers will be served! Go to this park that will allow you to be unbeatable on dinosaurs and other extinct giants. Beyond that, Paleopolis brings together exhibitions, fun workshops, films, and several media to facilitate the transmission of this scientific culture.
This park to discover in the Allier will necessarily please children, not to mention adults! Because few are those who have not been interested one day in this bygone era… So, ready for a trip back in time?
Do you know the Museum of Popular Music? Well, this is an opportunity to find out! This establishment is located in the former mansions of Montluçon and is a work of the architect Philippe Tixier. Just its beautiful exterior is worth a look!
When you enter MuPop, get ready to discover a parallel universe. Indeed, you will be immersed in the history of popular music through an effective alliance between the traditional route and interactive interactions.
“Queen of water towns”, Vichy is THE city to visit in the Allier. All the pleasures of life are brought together in one and the same city. Indeed, in Vichy, you can admire an important historical heritage, enjoy the thermal baths, stroll through the many green spaces, and taste quality dishes.
Moreover, Vichy even received some compliments from Madame de Sévigné, before becoming the city of curists par excellence. Thus, if “well-being” is your motto for your next holiday in the Allier, Vichy will be the obligatory step. Do you like to taste the specialties of a city? So there are a few: carrots, Vichy soup with Vichy water, and the famous pastilles.
8. Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting in rivers
Photo credit: Wikipedia – Marie-Lan Nguyen
Go sailing in the heart of the Gorges de la Sioule. The latter extends from Ébreuil to Queuille, in the neighboring department of Puy de Dôme. First, choose your boat. Then, paddle alone, as a duo, or in a group to discover this classified site, ideal for descents.
You can taste the meanders and other rapids while having a breathtaking view of the place. Try the Allier too! There are several courses and bases on this river for all levels and all types of boats. And what could be better than discovering the natural wealth of a department by sailing on its waters?
9. Welcome to the farm
The title of this initiative is particularly explicit! Several educational farms are open to visitors to the Allier to make known the terroir and local products. Spend time at one of the farms participating in the project, and find out how the owners take care of their animals and prepare the products.
At the Farjaud farm, for example, you can enjoy a farmer’s burger (“the fermidable”). As for the Vieux Logis, you will discover the manufacture of pâtés, terrines, and cheese. Finally, the Welcome to the Farm initiative focuses on raising awareness of local consumption while offering a fun discovery of agriculture. Who knows, you may even leave with some family and secret recipes…
If you visit the Allier, discover this fortified village. Located 30 kilometers from Vichy, it is in the heart of the Bourbonnais estate. It is also one of the most beautiful villages in France! At first glance, you can observe its pretty half-timbered houses, as well as a beautiful church of the twelfth century.
But your unmissable meeting point in this city to do in the Allier is its Bastion du Bourbonnais! In this small square, you will see the belfry (also called the Clock Gate). To find out more, spend an hour in the city museum…
Finally, after the historic stage, eat by tasting the famous Charroux Mustard! A must things to do in the Allier.
Thanks to its diverse but accessible relief, equestrian walks are a must to do in the Allier. There are several riding centers throughout the department. However, we recommend that you try the ride in the Sioule Valley. There, with your guide, you can take a famous equestrian course of 240 kilometers, named “Equi’Sioule”.
The latter crosses the different landscapes characteristic of the Allier: rivers, forests, vineyards … You will take a full view! Also, you can stop and eat in one of the relays on your course. Whether you are a beginner or confirmed, this walk will necessarily rhyme with discovery and pleasure.
12. Street Art City
Do you like street art? In the Allier, they even made it an entire city! Then head to Lurcy-Lévis to discover Street Art City. This third place brings together gigantic murals, but also committed works, micro-galleries, and temporary exhibitions.
Also, Street Art City invites street artists from all walks of life into residence so that they can experiment with their art in this area. The flagship work? Hotel 128! “A hotel where we do not sleep” we are told, but a building where we experience street art in what is most essential.
No doubt here, lovers of street art, creatives and curious will come out delighted with this incredible experience to do in the Allier.
With its history, castles are obviously must-sees to visit in the Allier. Thus, you will be spoilt for choice! Indeed, wherever you are in the department, there is always a castle or medieval building nearby.
But among the most emblematic, you can visit the Tour Qui Qu’en Grogne, in Bourbon-l’Archambault, whose name should already arouse your curiosity. If you are on the side of Meillard, take a look at the Castle of Aix. This building in the classical and Gothic style has crossed the ages with more or fewer facilities. Finally, the Château d’Avrilly, located in Trevol, is also worth a look. There, do not hesitate to browse its huge estate!
14. Bourbon l’Archambault
Another village to visit in the Allier! The little extra of Bourbon l’Archambault? Its incredible thermal baths, renowned since Roman times. Thus, you can stroll through this traditional and bucolic village with a well-established royal history.
And after the effort, the comfort in one of the thermal spa establishments, all renowned for their architecture. Once relaxed, you can go about your activities: taste local Bourbon products, visit the castle of the village, discover the Augustin Bernard Museum, or go play at the casino.
How to get to the Allier?
Several solutions exist if you go to visit the Allier. From Paris, you can take the A71 (preceded by the A10), the A77, or the A6. The journey will take about 4 hours. From Lyon, you will have to take the A89 and then the Nationale 7, for a period of about 2 hours. Finally, from Marseille, the A7 will take you to the Allier for about 5 hours of travel.
Vichy railway station is the main station of the Allier. From Paris, you just have to jump into an Intercité for about 3 hours of travel. Also, to reach Moulins from the capital, it takes 2h25 with a direct train from Bercy. Finally, Montluçon has a station served by several regional trains.
There are only aerodromes in the Allier. However, you will be able to land from your departure destination to Lyon or Clermont-Ferrand airport. The latter are the nearest cities with an airport. Then take a train, or rent a car to reach the Allier.
In order to find the best offer, we advise you to use a flight comparator like Skyscanner.
Where to stay in the Allier?
As for your cozy little bed, you will have the choice between several options to stay if you go to visit the Allier. The department is not particularly extensive, which will make your research easier.
If you prefer to stay close to the cities, in order to find all the amenities, then we recommend you to look at Vichy or Montluçon. There, you can find a charming Airbnb, a cottage, or a hotel. Also, if you prefer a unique experience in a traditional setting, we advise you to stay near Moulins, the capital of the Allier.
Finally, you can also find cottages, and other types of accommodation in the countryside, next to the rivers of Allier and Sioule: Chatel-de-Neuvre, Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule … To name but a few! And if you want to play the originality, you can also find accommodation in the very heart of one of the vineyards of the Allier.
The use of a hotel comparator is strongly recommended to find the solution that suits you best.
Forward all to discover this charming department of our beautiful country!