Eating, drinking and Sleeping

There is a distinct lack of places to recommend within the immediate vicinity of Saint-Pourçain, so the recommendation here is to stay outside the region and rather travel in. The various dining options are listed from north to south through the various communes, In addition, a short list of places to eat and stay around the forest of Tronçais can be found at the end of this section. 


Restaurant – La Ferme de Jeanne
Alain Gouterand
T : + 33 4 70 42 99 98
This busy lunch time restaurant is highly recommended. It serves a menu du jour that is both simple and wholesome. The friendly patron makes time to come from the kitchen and chat to diners. The wine list is limited although it is possible to drink the local wines of Domaine Gallas. Open for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive and recommended. (Last dined 02/10)

Restaurant – Auberge des Tilleurs
Lydia and Christian Letolle
Place Saint-Eloi
T : + 33 4 70 43 60 70
Situated at the top of the village, Lydia and Christian Letolle have been serving their take on traditional Bourbonnais cuisine since 1988. Closed Sunday evening and Monday. Annual closing in February.


Bar-Tabac-Restaurant – L’Auberge Gourmand
Jocelyn et Thierry Barral
1 Avenue des Acacias
T : + 33 4 70 42 82 04
This bar acts as the central hub of village life. Open from 07h00, it’s open for lunch and dinner every day except Wednesday.


Restaurant – Le Belvédère
Les Plachis
T/F : + 33 4 70 42 09 58
Overlooking the Allier on the Route Nationale just to the south of the village. This two roomed restaurant serves traditional cuisine, Coq-au-Vin de Saint-Pourçain, friture de l’Allier and cuisses de grenouilles.


Restaurant – L’Auberge Gourmande
Le Bourg
T : + 33 4 70 42 06 09
A pretty looking maison Bourbonnais next to the church in this quiet hamlet. There can’t be much passing trade… Michelin lauded, but closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Annual closing is first two weeks of July and autumn and spring half-term holidays. Best phone ahead to make sure they are open at all.


Chez Agnès
T : + 33 4 70 45 93 99
Agnès runs this rustic little eatery serving Italian and regional dishes. 

Sadly, Saint-Pourçain is no Sancerre or Saumur when it comes to the local options for dining and sleeping. You will find the short list of what is available listed below.

Hotel-Restaurant – Le Chêne Vert
35 boulevard Ledru-Rollin
T: + 33 4 70 47 77 00
F: + 33 4 70 47 77 39
It’s hard to believe this place on Saint-Pourçain’s busy main road once enjoyed such high praise and, at one point in the 1970s, a Michelin star. From first glance, it looks like a run down motel in any dead-end American town; it certainly doesn’t exude confidence for the casual visitor to wander in off the street. But the Chêne Vert is a long-standing institution, being included in the Michelin Guide since at least the 1920s.

Robin Yapp extols the virtues of this hostelry in his book, ‘Drilling for Wine’ written in the late 1970s. The then chef-proprietor, and holder of the Michelin rosette, was Jean Giraudon. It is now run by Jean-Guy Siret, although its 29 rooms, most of which were last refurbished in the 1970s are, apparently, badly in need of an update.

The hotel is closed in January and restaurant is not open on Sundays except in summer. The dining room appears smart and offers a good selection of local wines. I didn’t eat here during my visit to the region in February 2010, but received mixed reports from the growers themselves. I might find the courage to wander in and ask for a table the next time I am in town…

Restaurant – Brasserie du Cours
Valéry Thiollier
43 Boulevard Ledru-Rollin
T: + 33 4 70 45 30 03
This modest looking brasserie (where you can also play the Loto and back a horse) is on the main road, close to the market hall. I’ve heard conflicting reports on the food, but at least one vigneronne told me it was her favourite restaurant in town (not that there’s too much competition…).

Restaurant – Auberge du Pont
2 quai de la Ronde
T: + 33 4 70 45 31 08
This modest bistro which offers traditional cuisine is to be found next to the bridge over the Sioule. Closed in April and September.

Retail OpportunityAux Produits Regionaux – Bernard
Odile Bernard
41 rue Ledru-Rollin
T: + 33 4 70 45 30 10
A shop on the busy main road that is open seven days a week selling a range of products manufactured in and around the Bourbonnais . One side doubles up as a wine shop offering a good range from the majority of the independent growers. Just watch out for the rather grumpy proprietor, Madame Bernard: service without a smile…  


Restaurant – Les Quatre Saisons
Valérie et Pierre Cantal
6 rue du Tilleul
T: + 33 4 70 45 32 69
F: + 33 4 70 47 51 72
This typical village hostelry offers both a traditional and gastronomic menu and is a popular hang-out for local vineyard workers. The chef-proprietor comes with a good reputation, having previously worked at the Chêne Vert in town. Open every lunch time except Wednesday and for dinner on Friday and Saturday night.

Gîte – Les Burliers
Domaine Gallas
T: + 33 4 70 45 99 40
Léone Gallas runs this self catering property from the courtyard of the family wine business.


Hotel-Restaurant – Hôtel de la Poste
Maryse and Michel Séchaud
5 rue de la République
T: + 33 4 70 56 62 12
As the name suggests, the hotel is established in the ancient post office close to the centre of this town. The restaurant has a shaded terrace in summer and there are 12 rooms, although some have limited facilities. 


Retail – Huiles et Moutardes de Charroux
Claude et Simone Maenner
3 rue de la Poulaillerie
T/F: + 33 4 70 56 87 61 
Claude and Simone Maenner arrived in Charroux in 1992 and immediately set up their artisan operation. Today, their products are seen on the best shelves around the region and their fame goes as far as Roanne and the kitchen of Troisgros. Closer to home, Valérie Saignie chef-proprietor of the Ferme Saint-Sébastien in the village utilizes it in one of her specialities: macaroons. Mustards made with white wine vinegar originate specifically from Tressallier produced in the Saint-Pourçain appellation. Another, La Moutarde Pourpre, makes use of the juice of Gamay grapes from the same source.

Retail – La Remise
2 rue de la Paille
T: + 33 4 70 56 88 71
P: + 33 6 77 25 19 79
This proper épicerie is owned and run by gourmet and former Parisien pharmacist, Michel Bougard. Expect to find a wide selection of local culinary and vinous products in store. 

Restaurant – La Ferme Saint-Sébastien
Valérie Saignie et Philippe Charvet
Chemin de Bourion
T: + 33 4 70 56 88 83
F: + 33 4 70 56 86 66  
Valérie Saignie was born in Cantal and attended hotel school in La Chaise-Dieu in the Haute-Loire before working her apprenticeship in some of France ’s most lauded kitchens, including Michel Bras in Laguiole in the late 1980s. After a year in England to brush up her language skills, she returned to France for a spell working at another starred establishment in Burgundy . Valérie and her gentle and enthusiastic husband, Philippe, arrived in Charroux in 1994 to establish Le Ferme Saint-Sébastien, an ancient farm just outside the original fortifications of the medieval cité.

Valérie’s skills are in her patisserie, but the quality of the food shines through the meal. The menu is quite short and can appear a little intimidating as it is written in heart-felt but colloquial French. The advice is just sit back and let it all happen. It’s a very warm and relaxed place with a strong stylised paysan décor. Philippe works the floor and clearly has a passion for wine which comes through in the eclectic selection on offer. There is good local representation and a strong Loire presence overall.

Open Wednesday to Sunday and Tuesday too in July and August. There is a salon de thé alongside the main restaurant. Very highly recommended and offers very good value.
(Last dined 02/10)

Chambres d’Hôtes – La Grange du Belvédère
9 rue du Nord
T/F : + 33 4 70 56 80 02
She’s a solicitor he’s an architect From York. Colleen and David Sharpe visited France for the first time in 1975 and dreamed of living there. They have been installed in Charroux since 2004. Their first project was repairing an old colombage in the village before turning their attention to this ancient maison Bourbonnais which has since been converted into a four roomed guest house with a 4 Star rating. It comes highly recommended by Philippe Charvet for guests dining at Le Ferme Saint-Sébastien which is just a five minute walk away.

Chambres d’Hôtes - de l’Ormet
Patricia et Pierre Laederich
T: + 33 4 70 58 57 23
F: + 33 4 70 58 57 19
This four roomed manoir is close to the southern reaches of the Saint-Pourçain appellation and the gorges of the Sioule. The medieval village of Charroux is just 12km away. Open April to November.

For anyone wishing to explore the wine region of Saint-Pourçain, there is very little beyond the draw of the wine cellars to attract the casual visitor. However, within about thirty minutes drive, one can be in Vichy . This once faded gem of a town is doing its best to shake off its image of a tardy old spa resort and its connections to the État Français, the Nazi collaborating government that resided here between July 1940 and August 1944. It’s comes highly recommended for its wealth of quality hotels and dining experiences. 

Hotel - Sofitel Vichy Spa Hotel & Resort - Les Célestins
111 boulevard des Etats-Unis
T: + 33 4 70 30 82 00

Restaurant - Le N3
Sofitel Les Célestins
111 boulevard des Etats-Unis
T: + 33 4 70 30 82 28
The N3 is the new gourmet restaurant opened by chef Pierre-Yves Lorgeoux after Michelin starred Jacques Decoret defected to his own place in the centre of town in 2009. 

Restaurant – Le Bistro des Célestins
Sofitel Les Célestins
111 boulevard des Etats-Unis
T: + 33 4 70 30 82 27
The Bistrot des Célestins is a classic Parisian-style café which offers traditional cuisine. The food is served in generous helpings and the menu is full of old favourites. The wine list is short but does offer wines from the Saint-Pourçain cooperative and from François Ray. Recommended. Not too expensive given its high profile location.
(Last dined 02/10)

Hotel-Restaurant - Aletti Palace Hotel
3 place Joseph Aletti
T: + 33 4 70 30 20 20
F: + 33 4 70 98 13 82 
This attractive early 20th Century hotel is situated opposite the casino and served as the headquarters of the War Ministry in Vichy France. It's operated by Best Western, but don't let that put you off. It's a little expensive, but the rooms are clean, modern and air-conditioned. It serves as a good base for exploring the town. The restaurant with its attractive high ceiling serves classic French cuisine, although there is only a splattering of local dishes. 
(Last stayed: 02/10)

Restaurant – Les Caudalies
Emmanuel et Lucie Basset
7-9 rue Besse
T: + 33 4 70 32 13 22
This restaurant-brasserie was opened in 2009 by Manu and Lucie Basset having returned from working for seven years at the renowned Mirabelle restaurant in Hampshire’s New Forest . The service is crisp, formal but friendly; the carte small but well chosen with a good representation of local wines, including a few interesting curiosities thrown in from further afield. The food is classic and serious but not pretentious; well cooked, elegantly presented and certainly worthy of a Michelin star. (Last dined 02/10)  

Restaurant with rooms - Jacques Decoret
15 rue du Parc
T: + 33 4 70 97 65 06
Jacques Decoret, holder of the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) is also an ex-chef de Partie at Maison Troisgros in Roanne. This one star Michelin recently relocated to a refurbished Napoléon III chalet opposite the Parc des Sources in the centre of the town. Guillaume is their young and enthusiastic sommelier. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday and for three weeks in February and again from mid August to early September. There are five well appointed, if somewhat expensive, rooms. 

Restaurant – L’Hippocampe
3 boulevard de Russie
T/F: + 33 4 70 97 68 37
Set in one of the villas on a leafy boulevard, this is the place to eat fish and seafood in Vichy . Chef-proprietor Rémy Bourgeois is honoured with the privilege of serving huîtres from the Gillardeau family, based on the Atlantic coast between La Rochelle and the Île d’Oléron. The greatest oysters in the world? Probably. Closed Sunday evening, Monday and Tuesday lunch. Their annual closure in November. Prices are reasonable, but can depend on the quality of fish (or size and quantity of oysters) you choose. Recommended.
(Last dined 02/10)

Restaurant – La Rotonde – La Table de Marlène
Sur les bords du Lac D'Allier
Boulevard deLattre de Tassigny

T : + 33
F : + 33
Operated by Bruno Cassard since 2009, there are three separate opportunities to dine at this complex set within the impressive surroundings of Vichy ’s yacht club. On the first floor is La Table de Marlène, a formal restaurant that was awarded a Michelin star in the 2010 Guide. The separate bistro, La Rotonde, has a terrasse overlooking the man-made lake, and the third dining option is Les Gourmandises Volcaniques de Marlène, a tearoom serving a wide selection of pastries. The bistro is closed Monday and La Table de Marlène is closed Monday and Tuesday. 

Restaurant – Michelangelo.S
44 rue Eugène-Gilbert
T/F: + 33 4 70 32 85 15
I don’t normally set out to eat Italian food when I am in France , but this place came with several recommendations, so we were curious to try it out. Michelangelo serves an excellent plate of innovative anti-pasti, although the pasta dishes could be better.  

The list is exclusively Italian with all the wines being available for retail sale, which must be an interesting concept for its essentially French clientele. Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening and every lunchtime, except Wednesday. Inexpensive and recommended.
(Last dined 02/10)

Restaurant - Le Petit Bouchon
1 & 3 rue de Banville
T: + 33 4 70 31 21 04
Modest, but very busy bistro specialising in the cuisine of the Lyonnaise all served in ample portions. This is good, honest, simple food bought to the table by friendly, chatty waiters. There are plenty of wines by the glass, although you'll struggle to find anything local. Good value and recommended. (Last dined: 06/09)

Restaurant - Le Bungalow
1 quai Allier
T: + 33 4 70 98 51 93 
This wooden chalet is sitated on the banks of the Allier and forms part of a larger operation that has an function room and a more modest brasserie attached either side. The décor is very 21st century, as is the trendy background music. The menu is limited, formal and expensive. I haven’t dined at Le Bungalow, but if the standard of the cuisine is similar to that of the brasserie next door (the food comes out of the same kitchen) then it is best avoided. 
(Last dined at the brasserie 02/10)

Hotel - de la Plage
11 - 13 avenue Pierre Coulon
T: + 33 4 70 98 18 48
F: + 33 4 70 97 72 63 
Modern 45 room hotel that has a tie in with Le Bungalow restaurant, above. 

Hotel-Restaurant – Les Nations
13 Boulevard de Russie
T: + 33 4 70 98 21 63
Situated in a leafy boulevard in the centre of Vichy , Les Nations is a 71 room hotel in an Art-Deco building.

Retail Opportunity - Aux Fromages de France
14 rue de l'Hôtel des Postes
T: + 33 4 70 31 65 64
Patricia Gitenait runs this lovely cheese shop in the centre of the town. 


Hotel-Restaurant – Le Manoir du Mortier
Catherine Greninger
T : + 33 4 70 06 99 87

Situated three hours from Paris and in the northern Bourbonnais, this 18th Century mansion is set in 50 hectares of parkland. The restaurant serves its own organically grown vegetables and offers meat sourced locally as well as wines from the region. It’s a sound base for visiting the forest of Tronçais. Expect to pay upwards of € 125 for a double room.

Around the Forest of Tronçais

For those heading north and wishing to spend some time in the 10,000 hectare forest, these four places all come recommended.

Restaurant – Auberge du Rond-Gardien
Caroline et Jérôme Mazur
T : + 33 4 70 06 19 50
At the crossroads of two major roads that traverse the forest. It’s a popular place with the local hunting fraternity.

Hotel-Restaurant – Le Tronçais
12 avenue Nicolas-Rambourg
T : + 33 4 70 06 11 95
This 18th Century lodge is situated in parkland and on the banks of a small lake. It is relatively inexpensive at between € 48 and € 75 a night for a room.

Hotel-Restaurant – Chez Chaumat
Nicole et Gilles Friaud
Place Péron
T : + 33 4 70 67 52 21
This inexpensive eight roomed lodge provides a base for exploring the region. The restaurant makes a point of serving local and seasonal ingredients.


20 route de Varennes
T : + 33 4 70 45 62 97
Sells mainly bag-in-box and local wines in bottle solely from the co-operative. There is a limited selection of wines from elsewhere in France.

Au Fin Palais (Hédiard)
8 bis, rue Wilson
T : + 33 4 70 98 24 75
Noted as a caviste in all the brochures, but Hédiard is more a purveyor of luxury comestibles with wine as an incremental part of their business.

La Cave d’Agnès
23 rue Lucas et Marché Couvert
T : + 33 4 70 96 17 41
Small but busy little wine shop in the centre of Vichy.

La Cave de la Mairie (Intercaves)
13 place de l’hôtel-de-Ville
T : + 33 4 70 98 18 20


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