The underground of CussetThe underground of Cusset
©The underground of Cusset|Xavier Thomas
Seven years of royal work and peace

The underground passages & museum of Cusset

In Cusset, you can visit underground passages. But, are they really underground? To find out, we have to go back to the Middle Ages.

Focus on...

The underground

The imagination of Cusset gives them the name of underground. The historical reality overturns this belief. They are indeed the galleries “level with the water” of fortifications built under Louis XI, between 1476 and 1483.

Modern fortification

A military architecture

The royal city of Cusset served as a base for the French armies against Burgundy, then allied with the English. Vauzy de Saint-Martin, a native of Montluçon, designed this military architecture and made it a true prototype of modern fortification. The fortifications were demolished from the 17th century onwards, except for two gates out of four and one tower: the Prison Tower. With the filling in of the ditches of the fortifications, the galleries became buried. They were cleared as early as 1990, but the term underground remains because to visit them, you have to enter them by a staircase that dates back to 1943. The latter was built to access the galleries that could be used as shelters in case of bombing.

Seven years of royal work

The strength of this fortification lay in “a combination of obstacles for the assailant: drawbridge, counter-mine gallery, portcullis, English courtyard, ditches fed by the Sichon…”, and, in its six gunboats known as “French” built in an “X” to “not weaken the walls and offer a better angle of fire.” These fortifications were never used. After seven years of royal work that cost thousands of ecus, Burgundy returned to the bosom of France and peace settled in.

Prison Tower Museum

The Prison Tower Museum, housed in the only surviving tower, offers guided tours of these underground galleries.

Around the

Underground of Cusset

After the visit of the underground of Cusset, when you will have found the daylight again, take the opportunity to discover more about the architecture of this ancient royal city.

To be seen...

Some half-timbered buildings are worth a look, such as the House of Governor Chatard (at the junction of Arloing and Constitution streets) or to stay in the tic-tac-toc theme, other beautiful St. Andrew’s crosses in the facade of the House of the Canon (Victor-Hugo Square).

To eat

With all due respect, it is in a part of the Jehan de La Borderie hotel, with its easily recognizable facade with its mullioned windows and the overhang of its frame on blochets, that the Louis XI Tavern is housed. On the plate, it’s traditional with house specialties around Charolais and smoked salmon. To the left of the tavern, the Crêperie du Théâtre is the inevitable local embassy of Breton gastronomy, with a nice variety of galettes and salads.

Plan B

… like Brayaud, a true institution. This pocket restaurant is a refuge that welcomes night owls, misanthropophagous vampires or more simply all those who missed dinner time. Because the particularity of Le Brayaud is its late service, until midnight on weekdays and well beyond on weekends.