At first glance, Marcenat conjures up the pastoral vision of a village high up in the mountains (between 770 m and 1,449 m above sea level), set against the incomparable backdrop of the Monts du Cézallier. But this “village above the woods”, which rises to an altitude of 1,055 m, still has plenty to surprise visitors as it reveals its prosperous past.
Marcenat is a picturesque place to explore, as the village is suddenly revealed to the eye from the height of the plateau, but the view becomes clearer when you visit a village with a very special charm. It is delightful to linger in the streets and glean memories of its noble past, from opulent houses dating back to the prosperous 16th and 17th centuries, such as the “Monteil” and “du Bailly” houses, to those dating back to the time of the “cloth merchants” and their Art Deco architecture.
Marcenat boasts a vast architectural heritage, as evidenced by the church of Saint-Blaise, which dates back to Roman times and was subsequently remodelled in the Gothic period. With the spire on its bell tower, bearing one of the largest bells in the diocese after that of the cathedral of Saint-Flour, it boasts splendid Baroque altarpieces, listed as historic monuments. The medieval ruins of the Château d’Aubijoux, the stronghold of the Castellane family, are another reminder that the history of this town has long been linked to History itself.
Cross of Le Godde, Marcenat
Who are these men who left everything behind to travel the roads? Travelling throughout France and even abroad, these men left their native Cézallier land for six to nine months of the year. They set off to seek their fortune by selling sheets and linen on foot, then in carts or even by train. They returned home in the summer months when there was a shortage of labour in the countryside to help their families. They were the first to buy cars and build beautiful, opulent houses, equipped with running water and electricity before anyone else.
Middle-class residences, Marcenat
Near Marcenat, the Orthodox monastery of the Mother of God Znamenié is an unusual and remarkable site, not far from the beautiful Saillant waterfall and Mont Chamaroux, in the imposing expanse of the Cézallier mountain pastures, an exceptional biodiversity reserve. Its copper domes, which can be seen from afar, will guide you to this place steeped in mystery.
Today, tradition is combined with the scientific advances of the I.N.R.A.E (Institut National de Recherches Agronomiques et Environnementales - French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment).
This experimental farm, which has been based in Marcenat since 1962, aims to design sustainable dairy farming systems that respect the environment and preserve resources and animal welfare. Marcenat is a place of contrasts, where character and pleasure of living reflect the quality of its welcome in a natural setting of wide-open spaces, ideal for the quest for the very essence of life.