In the center of Haute-Loire, the village of Polignac is dominated by the ruins of its impregnable medieval fortress, perched on its volcanic hill. A lighthouse visible for miles around that makes Polignac a historic site with a unique panorama. Recently labeled Most Beautiful Villages of France, we tell you why Polignac deserves a stop!

1 – For its fortress and its unique heritage

Unmistakable, colossal, striking. There Polignac fortress stands like a beacon in the center of the village, giving it all its character. A witness to history at the gates of Puy-en-Velay which undoubtedly invites discovery. When we see it, we stop there...

It's a little steep, but the fortress is quite easy to access… You pass a large defensive gate, then the mousetrap which was once a real trap, then you enter the impressive medieval fortress. Thanks to the animators of the site, there is a guided tour fascinating to discover all its secrets.

Guided tour of the Fortress of Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

But this time, I let myself be seduced by something new: Wivisites audioguides. Nothing could be simpler, it's a free application accessible to anyone with a smartphone and earphones or headphones.

I tested for you the Wivisites audioguide of the Polignac fortress

The explanations are clear, fun, interesting, and the words are even illustrated on the phone with photos, drawings, educational animations, or reconstructions. Just let yourself be guided through the 16 points of interest in the fortress:

  • The ascent to the fortress and its defensive system
  • Firste defense gate
  • The Mousetrap
  • The guardhouse
  • The arms room
  • The windmill
  • The medieval-inspired garden
  • The cistern
  • The
  • The bread oven and the bakery
  • The chapel and the cemetery
  • The seigneury and the court of honor
  • The water supply
  • The Viscount
  • The dungeon
  • And the walkway

At each stage its explanations, illustrations and anecdotes so as not to miss anything of the history and architecture of the place. For example, do you know why the mousetrap has this name? Where was the windmill, or the chapel of the fortress, and who is buried under it? What do you think the small room on the ground floor of the tower of gehenna knowing that "Gehenna" comes from the Latin "hell" or "terror"? Finally, a little levity: did you know that mullein, this plant with large fluffy leaves, was used as toilet paper in the Middle Ages? Brief. The visit is alive!

Tower of Gehenna in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

And thanks to Wivisites, the immersion couldn't be more total!

The fortress of Polignac in figures

88 m of ramparts
60 m of cliff on average
3 hectares of land at the top
32 m dungeon height
141 steps to reach the top
83,5 m deep for the bottomless pit
1000 years of history!

A whole entertainment program at the fortress!

But the Fortress of Polignac, it's also a lot of entertainment, all year round! Initiation to archery, artistic workshops, bird of prey and fire show, heritage days, Halloween evening, hot-air balloon gathering… and so many other surprises!

A whole program to find here:

The built heritage of Polignac is not just the fortress…

Saint-Martin church in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Admittedly, it is as present as it is impressive, but the fortress is not the only architectural wealth of this Auvergne Most Beautiful Villages of France. Standing in the very center of the village of Polignac, there is first Saint-Martin church whose existence is attested since the XIe. Revamped and enlarged over the centuries (XIVe, XVthe, XIXe...), it stands out today for its flamboyant gothic portal and its XNUMXth century porche century on the south facade, its Chapel of the Sacred Heart of the XIVe century and its absence of a transept.

Gothic portal at Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Inside, the slightest detail deserves a look: the processional crosses and the 8 crystal chandeliers, the statue of Saint Anne (XIVe) in the Chapelle du Sacré-Coeur, XNUMXth century muralse century and stained glass from the end of the XNUMXth centurye… A detailed explanatory leaflet on the architecture and wealth of the Polignac church is also available at the ticket office of the Fortress and in self-service inside the building.

Fountain of Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Polignac is also rich in a small heritage that it is good to discover while strolling in the town and its villages (Cheyrac, Tressac, Bilhac, Marminhac, Rochelimagne, Les Estreys, Chambeyrac, Chanceaux, La Malouteyre…) No less than 107 elements of rural heritage were counted throughout the municipality: 36 calvary cross like that of Bilhac (XVIe century) listed as a Historic Monument since 1930, 33 fountains or washhouses like that of Pirou in the village of Polignac in 1879, 10 ovens, 13 shoeing looms, 10 assemblies or houses of blessedness, or even 3 old chapels, one of which is visible in the village of Tressac... So many witnesses illustrating the "living past" of the town.

Contact details:

Open. Closes at 18:00 p.m.
3 place Princess of Polignac
43000 Polignac
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2 – For its craftsmen and craftsmen, rich in unique know-how

Amélie and Gaëtan Borie at La Rose Trémière soap factory in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

In Polignac, two craftsmen (or rather 3) stand out for their presence in the historic town center: Amélie and Gaëtan Borie to the The Hollyhock Soap Factory. And Didier Roller, specialist in historical creations and reconstructions in leather, who for 3 years has occupied a boutique workshop at the very foot of the fortress.

An organic and natural soap factory. It was in 2015 that the The Hollyhock Soap Factory. Amélie manufactures soaps, shampoos, balms and others cosmetics. Products that she makes without artificial coloring, without preservatives, without synthetic fragrance, without animal fat or palm oil. True concentrates of nature, faithful to a certain ethic dear to the heart of the craftswoman.

La Rose Trémière soap factory in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

The soap factory therefore naturally chose a method of cold saponification. “The principle being to mix the oils, butters and fats with an alkaline solution. All at a very low temperature so as not to alter the quality of the oils and essential oils in any way, and above all without a machine!” emphasizes Amélie Borie. Brief. The most artisanal method ever! 

Scented candles in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

This is what allows him to manufacture and sell soaps adapted to each type of skin, knowing what's inside! Ingredients from biological agriculture and as far as possible, local agriculture ! To each skin its solution.

Sale of soap in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

For its part, Gaëtan, her husband, specializes in making scented candles made of vegetable wax certified GMO-free and pesticide-free, hand-poured. Result ? La Savonnerie de Polignac offers a (very) wide range of candles and scented creations. Lemongrass, orange, coconut vanilla, cotton flower, blueberry, cherry blossom, fig, patchouli or even rose and verbena and violet... so many perfumes "made in France" too, since they come from Grasse, the city of Côte d'Azur famous for its fragrances.

Good to know, in addition to their shop, the manufacturing workshop is open to visits by appointment!

Contact details:

Farm. Opens Friday
Polignac soap factory “La Rose Trémière” 2 Place Princesse de Polignac
43770 Polignac
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Didier Rollet, Vell'Art Leather in Polignac in Haute-Loire

A boutique workshop, time machine. At the foot of the castle, in its Vell'Art Leather boutique workshop, Didier Rollet does leather, but also wood and ironwork in his spare time. He has also set up a forge in front of his workshop, to the delight of the curious who are about to climb up to the fortress. He settled here, in Polignac a few years ago, seduced by the village, its old stones and its remarkable castle.

The leather, he fell into it 46 years ago, in a Native American reserve in Quebec. It was there that he learned to work with the material. His shop is therefore a journey through time, because Didier Rollet, in his period costume, is a specialist in medieval re-enactments: gourds, scabbards, quivers… which he makes using various ancient techniques.

Vell'Art Leather boutique workshop in Polignac in Haute-Loire

He also makes belts, bags and other leather goods that from time to time recall the Native American culture that he loves so much. 1000 leagues from Quebec and its native tribes, but also from his native Jura, Polignac has nevertheless been able to seduce the young retiree who now cannot imagine himself anywhere else to exercise his passion for leather.

Polignac is fantastic! For its heritage and its fortress first, because I am a lover of old stones and medieval times. But also for the people who live there and its municipality, who do everything to best preserve the village, maintain it and bring it to life. I have an inestimable chance to be here

Leather craftsmanship in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Contact details:

2 castle street
43770 Polignac
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3 – For its tables that honor local products

They are two in the center of the village. One is near the church: The terraces of Polignac, the other at the foot of the fortress: The Dungeon Inn. The 2 however come together in the traditional cuisine, the love of local products and "homemade".

Restaurant The terraces of Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Jean-Philippe Bouquet and Manon Thierry lead The terraces of Polignac on the Place de l'Eglise for 8 years. Equipped with a panoramic room in the back room, the restaurant delights the eyes as much as the taste buds. With its 60 indoor seats and 30 on the terrace, Manon and Jean-Philippe take pleasure in serving good meals in a warm and family atmosphere.

The Auberge du Donjon in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Just above, on the Place Princesse de Polignac, Marcelle and Franck Vidil at L'Auberge du Donjon also value traditional French cuisine, with local specialties: Green lentils from Velay, trout from Vourzac, homemade ice cream, beers from Forez (Craponne) and Verturée. They have 35 seats indoors, but the highlight of the show is on the terrace: 40 seats outside with a view of the dungeon of the imposing Polignac fortress.

4 – For its natural setting and its hiking trails

The town covers 3305 hectares of greenery, suitable for all types of hikes : pedestrian, equestrian or VTT. 5 signposted circuits from the village make the wealth of Polignac and allow walkers to admire the heritage of the town and its fortress from every angle!

Hiking in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

Download the Haute-Loire hikes on the Rando app:

A 2 km treasure hunt to do with the family to discover the village of Polignac

Around Polignac, there is a short and playful path. A family walking route that can be completed in one hour, called: The Charrirous. The latter sets out to discover the village, its church, its frescoes, its alleys, its old houses, squares and fountains. The natural environment and local volcanism also occupy a prominent place, through 5 viewing devices. Indeed, several ancient volcanoes surround Polignac!

To not get lost,
nothing's easier,
just follow the markup
, indicating
route and points
interest of the Charrirous

Les Charrirous in Polignac in Haute-Loire, Auvergne

As for the fortress, a Witours audio guide "The Charrirous" is downloadable on smartphone and tablet. And for the little adventurers, a free treasure hunt is available at the ticket office of the fortress! All that remains is to let your gaze wander over the landscape and the rich surrounding heritage, whether architectural or natural...

It's your turn, let yourself be seduced by Polignac, one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France ! We are conquered!

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