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Stage town for the 4th time

Sub-prefecture of Cher (18)

Population: 9,500 (Saint-Amandois, Saint-Amandoises)

Specialities: sanciaux (thick pancake filled with apples), poirat (Berrich pear pie), Châteaumeillant and Venesmes wines, sucrine of Berry, Berry pâté, truffiat.

Personalities: Sully, the Grand Condé, Louis Lecoin (pacifist), Julian Alaphilippe, Marc Sarreau, Bernard Quilfen (cycling).

Sport: AS Saint-Amand (football), Etoile Saint-Amand (gymnastics), RC Saint-Amand-Orval (rugby), Julian-Alaphilippe municipal cycling training centre (PEC). Competitions: Women's Golden Trophy (cycling). Stages of Paris-Nice and the Tour de France.

Economy: silversmithing, printing. 

Festivals: Foires d'Orval / Magic Festival (autumn) / Les Affouages (folklore) / Book Fair (May) / Biennal of art crafts.   

Motto: Saint-Amand-Montrond, a town in action

Labels: Ville à Vélo du Tour de France / Ville centre de la France / Territoire à vélo / Terre de Jeux / Ville fleurie (4)

Website: www.ville-saint-amand-montrond.frhttps://www.departement18.fr/ / https://tourisme-coeurdefrance.com/


SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND AND CYCLING

For Carlos Sastre, Saint-Amand-Montrond really is the City of Gold. It was here that the Spaniard held off Cadel Evans in the final time trial of the 2008 edition and kept his golden jersey to take him all the way to Paris. The Australian, for his part, had to wait another three years for his crowning glory. But the day's stage should logically come down to a sprint. This was the case at the Tour's last finish in the city in 2013, where Mark Cavendish took his 25th stage victory after surviving a day of curbs or at the stage finishes of Paris-Nice won by Frédéric Moncassin in 1996, Alessandro Petacchi in 2002, Tom Boonen in 2006 or André Greipel in 2015. Saint-Amand Montrond is also the birthplace of two-time world champion Julian Alaphilippe, the most popular of the French riders, winner of six stages in the Tour de France and of the polka-dot jersey in 2018. Fifth overall in 2019, 'Loulou' also wore the Yellow Jersey for 18 days over three editions (2019, 2020 and 2021).   Saint-Amand-Montrond was also the adopted home of Bernard Quilfen, who won a stage of the 1977 Tour after a 222-km breakaway and went on to become a tireless sports director. "Quiqui" passed away in Saint-Amand-Montrond in 2022. A gran fondo in his name is held there every year.


SIGHTS:

  • Fortress of Montrond

Construction: 13th to 17th centuries.

Style: medieval fortified castle.

History: originally a simple feudal fortress on the summit of Mont Rond, the castle was taken by the English in 1361 during the Hundred Years' War. It was rebuilt the following century by Charles II d'Albret. At the time, it had twelve surrounding towers and a keep 40 metres high and 16 metres in diameter. Despite its capture in 1361, its subsequent resistance to the English proved its defensive value. Until the 15th century, Montrond on the right bank and Château d'Orval on the left bank formed a veritable lock on the Cher valley. It became the property of Sully in 1606. In 1651, during the Fronde, the fortress fell into the hands of the Grand Condé, who had grown up there, and underwent an 11-month siege before capitulating. The fortress was dismantled after the Revolution.

Characteristics: this is the only bastioned fortification built in central France. It occupies the whole of a hill overlooking the town to which it gave half its name. The choice of site was strategic, as its favourable location at the confluence of two rivers, the Cher and its tributary the Marmande, meant that it could control the passageways formed by these two valleys.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1988.    

  • City of gold

Saint-Amand-Montrond owes its goldsmithing vocation to a Parisian jeweller who chose to settle here in 1888. Mr Moricault, a Parisian jeweller fed up with the hustle and bustle of the capital, decided to move to the provinces. One of his employees, a native of Meillant, recommended Saint-Amand-Montrond to him, and the link between the town and the jewellery industry was born. Since then, the industry has developed its expertise in shaping, assembling and polishing gold chains and other jewellery. The town's respect for its materials and concern for quality have earned it the title of Ville et Métiers d'Art (Town of Crafts and Arts), and it is now France's third-largest gold centre. Around ten companies process nearly four tonnes of this precious metal every year, and the Jean Guéhenno vocational school specialises in jewellery. Saint-Amand-Montrond has developed its Cité de l'Or in a 17-hectare landscaped park. The complex houses a Maison de l'Or museum, an auditorium, meeting and reception rooms and various business services. Opened in the first quarter of 2000, the Cité de l'Or is a glass and steel pyramid 34-m high and 4,600 m2 in area. At the top of its four quarters sits a (fictitious) diamond, the symbol of Saint-Amand jewellery.  

  • Saint-Amand Church

Construction: 11th to 20th centuries.

Style: Romanesque.

History and characteristics: This building was constructed on the site of a priory built in the High Middle Ages. The vault over the transept crossing was rebuilt at the end of the 12th century. The first bay of the nave and the western portal date from the 13th century. In the 14th century, the sacristy was built and the base of the bell tower was rebuilt. The side chapels were built between the mid 15th and early 16th centuries; Sainte-Anne chapel was founded by Philippe de Culan, Lord of Saint-Amand-le-Chatel. Between 1816 and 1840, the sacristy was rebuilt and a spire added to the bell tower.

Listed as: Historical Monument in 1840.   

  • Saint-Vic Museum

Opening: 1938

Characteristics: Once the town house of the abbots of Noirlac, at another a women's convent, at another a prison, this building, nestling on the edge of a beautiful garden, has housed the collections of the Saint-Amand-Montrond Museum since 1938. The history of Saint-Amand-Montrond can be leafed through here, from the Palaeolithic period to the Second World War, via the Gallo-Roman era, the 11th, 12th and 15th centuries and popular traditions. The tour includes a number of rare items illustrating the rich past of this part of Berry, including a bust of the Grand Condé, who grew up here.  

  • Berry Canal

Construction: 1808 to 1840.

History and characteristics: the Canal de Berry (originally known as Canal du Cher, then the Canal du Duc de Berry before taking its current name in 1830) was 320-km long. It was used until 1945, then decommissioned and sold off in 1955. This canal has the unusual characteristic of being three canals in one, as it is made up of three separate branches that join at Fontblisse, in the commune of Bannegon (Cher). It links towns in the Allier, Cher and Loir-et-Cher departments, from Montluçon to Noyers-sur-Cher, via Saint-Amand-Montrond, Bourges and Vierzon.  

  • Mirage IIIB/243

Since 2000, a Mirage fighter has stood on a roundabout in the town. Facing skywards, it gives the impression of taking flight and is supposed to symbolise the importance of the air force and its personnel in the Cher department, thanks in particular to the presence of the Avord air base. A local artist recently presented a project to paint the aircraft pink, an initiative rejected by the town hall.


TO EAT:

  • Pâté berrichon

Also known as pâté de Pâques or pâté aux oeufs, pâté berrichon originated in the Berry region of France. It was traditionally served at Easter, when a Christian tradition said that the feast should be celebrated by offering hidden hard-boiled eggs! Pâté berrichon consists of puff pastry, pork and veal meat, boiled eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg and water. Start by placing the stuffing on the puff pastry, before adding the hard-boiled eggs, cut in half, on top. Then close the pastry to form a compact pie. This rectangular pie can be served hot or cold with a good green salad. It's a dish in its own right, often enjoyed with the whole family and a good red wine from the region.

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