The massif of the Monts de la Madeleine, one of the last northern bastions of the Massif Central to exceed 1000 meters in altitude. It dominates the plain of Roanne. This green lung straddles the departments of Allier and Loire. It extends over 120 hectares of nature between the towns of Roanne and Vichy, out of a total of 000 municipalities. The massif reflects, to the visitors who traverse it, a cartography of many corners of France and elsewhere.

The different faces of the Madeleine mountains

A mosaic of landscapes

This patchwork of 120 hectares presents a mosaic of landscapes, the most marked of which are groves and ponds, vineyards, forests of silver fir, beech and oak, some of which are classified as ancient forests. There are also wetlands, such as domed bogs and notable wooded bogs. These peatlands, some of which have been intact for millennia, feed the many streams and rivers. These rivers earned the massif its nickname "water tower".

Thus, the massif of the mountains of the Madeleine shelters a remarkable fauna and flora closely associated with the diversity of its habitats. The multiple facets of this jewel of greenery have guided the activities of the people of the Monts de la Madeleine, which today have become speci fi c know-how through the exploitation of basements, wood, water and plots. of land, more precisely those called "chenevet", "chenevière" where the precious hemp was cultivated.

The Puy de Montoncel

This mid-mountain range culminates in Puy du Montoncel at an altitude of 1287 meters. It is the summit of the Bois Noirs forest; it offers a 360 ° panoramic view. It is followed by that of the Pierres du jour which reaches 1165 meters. The Monts de la Madeleine are home to remarkable heritage, natural and cultural assets.

The history of the Monts de la Madeleine massif

This mountain has known from prehistoric times a human presence, even modest, sedentary or passing. It owes its name to the chapel of the Madeleine erected during the Middle Ages. The oldest mention was found in 1153. Since that time, it has been, every July 22, a place of pilgrimages, processions and later, fairs attracting crowds from neighboring parishes.

Its relief and its location at the crossroads of three languages ​​(oïl, oc and franco-provencal) representing the point of convergence of several cultures, have thus created its history and this identity that cannot be found anywhere else.

The unmissable places of the Monts de la Madeleine

What activities to practice within the massif of the Monts de la Madeleine?

All these riches have allowed the development of a tourist offer and many outdoor activities, both summer and winter: cross-country and downhill skiing, tree climbing, paragliding, naturalism, hunting, snowshoes, zip line, climbing, fishing, running orientation, archery, cani hiking… and of course hiking!


  • La hiking, the ultimate sport and relaxation activity, whether on foot, horseback or mountain bike. GRs and two routes labeled "European cultural route" complete this offer: Saint-Jacques de Compostela et Saint-Martin. The hardest part is choosing a path!

Mountain biking

  • Mountain bikers will be able to explore the circuits of the largest FFC mountain biking area in France, that of the “Bois Noirs”.

Discovery of the mysteries of the Madeleine mountains

  • Discover the mysteries of the Magdalen Mountains: Saint-Martin, the jalopy of the Magdalen Mountains, the geology in the Pays d'Urfé with in particular a carboniferous Viséen limestone seam, at the start of the Champoly quarry, recognized by regional interest in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

Tastings of local specialties

  • Tastings of local specialties: AOC wine from the Côte Roannaise, cheeses matured in the tunnel of the Mons cheese dairy or made on the farm, grattons pump, blueberry pies, savory or sweet cakes with hemp flour, flan de Saint- Rirand, Saint-Vincent brioche, Charolais and Ferrandaise cow meat, Ambierle shortbread ...

The plessage

  • Learning the practice of plessage through discovery days. In order to get to know this technique of maintaining hedges specific to the Madeleine mountains and listed in the intangible heritage of UNESCO.

Free or guided tours

  • Discover independently or through guided tours the Urfé castle, the priory of Ambierle, or the villages of character: Saint-Haon-le-Châtel and Le Crozet.


  • Oxygen Black Wood - June

Every year in June, the Bois Noirs Oxygène hike labeled "Rando d'or FFC" is organized. The event brings together between 800 and 1000 mountain bikers and aims to discover the territory. This race offers 6 circuits of 10 to 100 kilometers. A 40-kilometer enduro-type circuit with 7 specials called “Endurolle” and a free semi-night outing supervised by the Bois Noirs mountain bike club accessible to all participants. Find out more

  • Gourmet walk in Côte Roannaise - July

Lovers of wine and gastronomy will be delighted by this 9-kilometer route through the vineyards. Five stops will allow you to meet the winegrowers and chefs of the region and to taste the fruit of their labor. Find out more

  • The Madeleine festival - July August

Since 2003, the festival of the mounts of the Madeleine organized by the association Pentatête offers each summer a series of classical concerts in churches, abbeys and chapels as well as musical meetings with the inhabitants. Find out more

  • The rendezvous of the Monts de la Madeleine - September

An event of festive and fun importance, which brings the inhabitants of the massif and neighboring towns, whose notoriety and scale are constantly increasing. Two days of festivity to highlight the riches of the massif and the specificities of each village according to a different theme each year. Find out more

  • Roanne / Thiers market - December

Since 1925, the Roanne mountain group has been organizing this 57 km night itinerary, from town to town. Over the years, courses of 17, 25 and 40 kilometers have been added to make it a sporting event accessible to as many people as possible. Find out more

L'avis de Ludivine

Ludivine's opinion

I can only invite you to discover the Monts de la Madeleine. Anyone crossing this massif by chance remains under its spell. The increasingly marked character of this mountainous territory makes it unique. Try to live the convivial and authentic atmosphere of this traditional rural life between Loire and Allier where are still cultivated, in multiple fields, the know-how, the traditions and the customs which are specific to it.

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