Apremont Sur Allier

The village of Apremont sur Allier in the Cher department is only just in the Centre region at all, as the region's border with Burgundy runs down the river Allier on which the village sits.

One of les plus beaux villages de France, Apremont is a charming little collection of medieval houses, whose steep red roofs contrast perfectly with the burgeoning greenery in which they sit. Or is it? In fact many of the apparently medieval houses were considerably restored by the owner of the castle which dominates the village - one Eugene Schneider, late 19th century owner of the famous Creusot ironworks.

Schneider was so charmed by the village when he came into ownership of the castle by marriage that he first restored the castle, then began restoring, rebuilding and building afresh in the village.

The castle was once a sombre chateau-fort encircled by a 14 towered wall, but in the 15th century it fell into ruin. The Schneider family turned it into the elegant property we see today, and have continued to improve it over the years. Eugene Schneider's grandson was responsible in the 1970s for the creation of a set of gardens, of which the White Garden was inspired by that at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent.


The castle is open to the public during the summer months, and you can visit various parts of the house and gardens, including the stables, where a carriage museum shows some of the strange contrivances of yesteryear, including the massive strong-box carriage that carried the payroll for the Schneider factory's hundreds of workers.

Just downstream of Apremont, and making a pleasant walk from the village, is an unusual bridge - the Pont-Canal du Guetin, which carries the Canal Lateral du Loire over the river Allier, just above the Allier's confluence with the river Loire. The bridge is, at 343 metres long, one of the longest of its type in France.

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