© The Fortress of Billy and its water level. | Cindy Michaud
Between history and escape

The Fortress of Billy

Eaten by brush for several centuries, the military fortress of Billy has regained its soul. Classified as a historical monument, its successive restoration sites and its guided and animated tours, give new life to the pride of the Bourbons.

A l'assaut de...

The fortified city

Swamps as well as wooden palisades provided protection from “barbarian” invasions. From the 11th century, stone came to supplant wood and it was in the XII century that the citadel was built.

The geographical situation naturally lends itself to the establishment of a stronghold. To the east, a steep plateau cut by two small valleys. The Allier, a wild river, forms a natural barrier to invasions from the West. Established on a circular mound 50m above the ground, Billy has a sentinel role to watch over the land of Auvergne, enemy of the Bourbonnais lordship.

Hear ye! Hear!

Invitation to contemplation

A charming village nestled among the hills and the Allier Valley, Billy invites you to contemplate… A magnificent emblem of the Middle Ages, its military fortress from the late 12th and early 13th centuries has many secrets to tell you.

A little history

The Fortress of Billy

Bought by Achambault VII, Sire of Bourbon in August 1232, the lords of Bourbon enlarged the building and strengthened it for centuries. Not residing in the city, they called on captain-châtelains to command the garrison and provide administrative and judicial powers. Billy was the second of the seventeen castellanies that the province had, both in wealth and in population. It resisted attacks by the English during the Hundred Years’ War. And in 1576, during the Wars of Religion, it succeeded under the onslaught of the Protestant troops of the Prince of Condé.

Now a magnificent emblem of the Middle Ages, the Fortress was successively strong place, prison and vegetable garden!

The village

Remarkable houses

Go in search of its character houses, its common well, its auditorium, its harbor master’s office… !”

The auditorium, a long building, located near the entrance of the castle, surmounted by a belfry with its clock, was the place where the captain castellan rendered justice. Today, it houses the tourist office, an exhibition room and the post office. A little below is the former bailiff’s house now a bed and breakfast. The town hall occupies the guard house near the Chabotin gate still flanked by its two towers. As you stroll through the rouettons discover half-timbered houses.

Discover

Saint-Cyr-Sainte-Julitte Church

Saint-Georges cellar

This Ist century religious building and its Romanesque crypt, have been reworked over the centuries. They have the particularity of having been built 800 meters from the village. Billy parish maintained its religious importance even though the inhabitants chose to settle in Billy Fortress which offered more security in case of danger.

Various classified objects are present in the church. Visitors can go down into the Romanesque crypt, the Cave Saint Georges, named after the saint attached to the spring that gushed out at the foot of the church and because the winemakers stored the wine there.

Classification & label

A remarkable heritage

Thanks to lovers of its history, the city eventually comes back to life. Listed in the inventory of Historical Monuments and then classified in 1921, Billy obtained in December 2021 the label “Small Cities of Character”.

Addresses

A short break is necessary

chateau bakery offers a variety of pastries, pastries, sandwiches as well as rustic breads with a good old-fashioned taste. Also a must-see address, the Auberge du Pont, fresh and seasonal products, the chef pays particular attention to the content of his plates.