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Roanne is at the beating heart of le Roannais.
An hour from Lyon, Roanne is famous across the world as the home of Maison Troisgros (more about this superb restaurant on our 'blog' very soon!).
There is, of course, much more to the town of Roanne than this celebrated temple of gastronomy.
Situated at the point of contact between the Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne and Burgundy regions, it offers everything you could want from a tourist centre.
Whether you're after nature, culture, tranquility, or just fun, you will be enchanted by the landscape, the historic monuments, the local and regional entertainment, and, of course, the food and wine, from local inns and cafes to internationally acclaimed three-Michelin-starred restaurants.
Standing on the famous Loire river, Roanne is also full of it's pleasures and beauty, and it is also a great centre of fashion and textile design.
For the young and the not-so-young, for families and couples alike, a rendezvous at Roanne promises a wonderful experience, wellbeing and relaxation.
Never far away, the Loire has shaped Roanne's landscape and history.
It is a great place for rest and recreation. Riverside walks, swimming, water sports of every kind…… the possibilities are endless!
River, canal, lake, ponds and streams….Roanne lives on the water!
In summer, the Loire en Fête festival offers sporting and cultural events and opportunities to discover the landscapes and natural history of one of the great rivers of France.
The Lac de Villerest: Wild Landscapes and Aquatic Pleasures
South of the town, near the mediæval, walled village of Villerest, and behind the Villerest dam the Loire forms a thirty-kilometre-long lake, offering inexhaustible opportunities to lovers of water sports and other open-air activities, with sailboarding, kayaking,… even pedaloes. In summer, supervised bathing is available at the beach, which also has a children's play park.
Passing through Roanne, the Loire forms a lovely stretch of water, perfect for rowing, waterski-ing… and water jousting!
There's also plenty of fun in the water without being in, or on, the Loire.
With the new Nauticum Centre at Roanne and the swimming pool at le Coteau, Grand Roanne also offers plenty of possibilities for aquatic pleasure indoors: lane swimming, whirlpool, aquaslides and more… there' something for everyone!
The Marina and The Canal: Bustle and Sociability
Right in the centre of town is the port. Don't miss its unique and welcoming atmosphere. Home to a hundred boats and barges in winter, in summer it is a 'port of call' for those cruising the French waterways. And right round the year there's something going on: markets, festivals, an urban beach, and much more besides!
The port lies at one end of the Roanne-Digoin canal, 57 kilometres of tranquility punctuated by 10 locks and connected to the whole of the French waterways network.
It offers tourists many different activities, including, of course, fishing, the favourite pastime of many locals.
Cruising is well provided for, with serviced moorings and lots to see and visit on the way, as well as organised trails for walking, biking, and horse-riding.
Roanne and its surrounding area are a time-traveller's delight, with much to offer to lovers of the past. First a trading settlement and then an industrial centre, Roanne retains elements form all stages of its history, from antiquity to the Middle Ages and on to the Industrial Revolution.
Outside the town, discover mediæval villages and other historic sites with their impressive castles, monasteries and abbeys.
Roanne From Gallo-Roman Settlement to Mediæval Town
In the Gallo-Roman period, the town, called Rodumna, was established on the banks of the Loire. Later it became an essential staging post on the royal road from Paris to Lyon, now the RN7, the "holiday road" celebrated in Charles Trenet's song.
The historic centre of Roanne testifies to this rich past: the Gallo-Roman pottery kilns, dating from the 2nd century AD, produced famous "Roanne painted bowls", examples of which can be seen at the Musée Déchelette. The Château de Roanne, with its facade in the Renaissance style, has a listed 12th century donjon.
Out Of Town Excursions
Around Roanne are a number of mediæval villages, still surrounded by their walls.
Villerest, now part of the urban district, and Saint-Haon le Châtel, Charlieu, Le Crozet, Saint-Jean Saint-Maurice…all have an impressive architectural inheritance. The La Roche, Saint-Marcel de Félines and Corness d'Urfé castles are also well worth a visit.
Churches, Abbeys, Priories, Monasteries and Convents offer a remarkable wealth of religious architecture, from the Romanesque to the Gothic.
Roanne is a haven of peace, surrounded by a landscape full of variety, to be explored on foot, by bike, or on horseback.
At its heart are the winding meanders of the Loire, one of the last untamed rivers of Europe.
On either side extends the broad plain of the Roannais, bordered on the east by the Monts du Beaujolais, and on the west by the Monts de la Madeleine, outliers of the Massif Central.
The Riverbank: Perfect For Walking
The banks of the Loire, the towpath of the Roanne-Digoin canal, old gravel-pits turned into lakes… All these provide wonderful walks in impressive surroundings, amid the greenery of an unspoilt nature, while Gravière aux Oiseax sanctuary at Mably offers an opportunity to watch birds and discover the flora and fauna of the region.
There's no doubt, around the lake, on the banks of the Loire, and in its parks and gardens, Roanne reveals its true nature!
Sport For All!
There's no shortage of sporting facilities in the immediate area, with the Villerest golf course, tennis courts and equestrian centres. A little further afield, the Loire and the mountains provide a variety of possibilities for outdoor recreation.
Rising to 1,287 metres, the Monts de la Madeleine offer the full range of mountain sports from winter through to summer, from climbing to cross-country and downhill ski-ing, as well as tree-climbing in a forest adventure park.
And for those who want to climb even higher, there is gliding, micro-light flying, paragliding, hang-gliding, hot-air ballooning. All these aerial sports are available, offering an incomparable opportunity to appreciate the magnificent landscapes.
A Vast Network Of Way-Marked Paths
These offer a more intimate glimpse of the countryside to walkers, mountain-bikers and riders. There are numerous organised walks throughout the year, starting form villages of the Roannais. The oldest and most challenging is a 57km night-time walk in December, across the mountains from Roanne to Thiers, now an eighty-year old tradition.
All-in-all Roanne, set in Le Roannais, is a very special place, and should certainly be on your French list to visit!
You won't be disappointed!
The Pays Roannais has a population of 154,000, 73,000 of whom live in the conurbation of Grand Roanne.
Roanne is an hour from Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand or Saint-Étienne by road or rail.
There are three airports within easy reach of Roanne, offering scheduled domestic and international services:
For even more information on Roanne and le Roannais visit these websites: