In the heart of Europe, Auvergne is the land of castles. They are witnesses to its historical, artistic and architectural heritage.
The Route Historique des Châteaux d’Auvergne is an association founded in 1967 by owners of castles open to visitors. The original idea, rather forward-thinking and still in the news, was to federate owners, representatives or managers of monuments open to the public in the Auvergne, in order to promote the richest of these monuments by common actions.
Today it federates 39 castles over the four departments. They offer an extremely wide variety of periods, themes, interior or exterior design. Over the time, they were able of adjusting by bettering the quality and organization of their visits, by opening, step by step, for exhibitions, concerts, theatre plays, receptions.. or even by welcoming in guest-rooms or on occasion for a film-shooting.
The association plays its part in the promotion of all these new and innovant activities.
Heritage ownership has followed the great national trends of historical monuments. They were traditionally and mainly owned by old families. Today, some have become state, local or municipal properties. Others were bought by old-stone lovers.
The typology of the 39 subscribers to the Route in 2018:
° heirs of the original families: 20 castles
° more recent owners: 11 castles
° municipality: 6 castles
° Department: 1 Castle
° Region: 1 castle
Nowadays these 39 castles receive between 300 000 and 350 000 visitors per year. Altogether they have the second more important touristic attendance in the Auvergne, behind Le Pal and very close to Vulcania.
Membership of the Association is made at the interested owner’s explicit request. This request is followed by a meeting and an on-site visit by an-hoc commission which studies the number of opening days, the interest and quality of the visit. It is decided in fine by the boards of directors. It is a paying membership with annual contribution depending on the number of visitors, less than 2000 visitors per year to more than 15 000 visitors per year. This scale was conceived in a true concern for solidarity between « bigger » and « smaller » castles.