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Spend a Night in a Templar Castle: The Château Saint-Jean

In the early Middle Ages, the Knights Templar emerged as one of the most powerful and feared organisations in Christendom. Over the course of almost two centuries, this secretive force of priestly knights, which had originally been formed to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem, assumed control over an astonishing amount of monasteries, castles, and other landholdings across Europe and the Middle East. Nowadays, many of these properties — some allegedly with mystical secrets of their own — are in ruins. Happily, the Château Saint-Jean is not one of them. 

© Château Saint-Jean

The Château Saint-Jean lies about an hour northwest of Vichy in a corner of the Allier village of Montluçon. Although its oldest parts date to the 1100s, the former Knights Templar castle mainly owes its newfound relevance to Nicole and Jean-Claude Delion. In 2016, the Delions embarked on a sweeping makeover of the estate, commissioning Paris-based design studio Jouin Manku to create a five-star getaway worthy of kings. Today, the chateau has amenities that include nineteen rooms and suites, a Michelin-starred restaurant (La Chapelle), a spa centre, and several acres of sprawling parkland.

La Chapelle, which occupies the Templars’ old chapel, is possibly the hotel’s principal highlight. With its exposed stone pillars, veined marble flooring, and shimmering copper panels, the space is architecturally a perfect mix of old and new. Head chef Olivier Valade likewise oversees a “land to sea” menu, which combines traditional dishes from France’s heartland with zestier, more contemporary flavours from the seaside. For guests who prefer more informal dining, the Château Saint-Jean also has an on-site bistro as well as two bars.

For more information on Auvergne’s castles, click here.