Murat is the last town before entering the mighty Cantal volcano. It is also a town that is keen to showcase its historic buildings. The town is dotted with a number of private mansions, built using a variety of local stone.
It decorates the slopes of the Rocher de Bonnevie in the form of columns and is proudly displayed on the façades of Murat houses. However, here, the stone comes in a variety of colours and if you’re a good listener, you might just hear it sing! While the hard, black basalt is found on the shop fronts, the roofs bear the weight of another stone called “Phonolite”, also known as the “Singing Stone”. Visible on Puy Griou, when two pieces of phonolite are struck together, they emit a characteristic sound! Would you like to find out more about the stone of Volcanoes? Visit the Visitor Centre of Puy Mary in Dienne.
Town of Murat
The oldest documents referring to the town date back to the 11th century. These documents mention a fortress belonging to the Viscounts of the town. They chose to build their château on the summit of the Rocher de Bonnevie, a strategic site that would allow them to survey the surrounding area and prevent a military attack. They also built fortifications in certain parts of the town. Hemmed in by its walls, the town struggled to spread out years later.
With the growth of fairs and trade in the town, Murat became richer, Murat grew larger and Murat attracted the envy of neighbouring lords. The viscounts, who ruled the town, chose to fortify the richest parts of the old town. This gave rise to the local saying: “Un mur mura Murat et Murat murmura” (A wall was built around Murat and Murat mumbled). The inhabitants of the suburb tried to make themselves heard in order to obtain their share of the wall... without success.
A bird’s eye view of Murat
The arrival of the railway in Murat marks its transition into modern times. The new station would considerably change the town’s urban layout, with the creation of the district under Le Balat, the construction of avenues and the emergence of parks and gardens. In 1890, the construction of Les Halles, a steel-framed building, changed the face of the town a little more, as if in an attempt to firmly entrench it in the industrial era. The Place du Balat and the Place de la Boucherie were transformed, and Murat was finally able to expand and welcome its first “visitors” to explore the Monts du Cantal.
Les Halles de Murat
Travellers arriving by train in Murat could already see a monumental Virgin and Child standing on top of a volcanic rock. This rock is the Rocher de Bonnevie, a former Viscount stronghold whose fortress was destroyed in 1633. In 1878, thanks to donations from parishioners, a cast-iron statue, 8 metres high, was erected on the site of the former château. Today, this site is a delight for families thanks to a trail that leads to the summit. Would you like some expert advice? The firework display on the 14th of July is even more spectacular when viewed from a height!
Rocher de Bonnevie