Sub-prefecture of the department, on the border of the Forez plain and mountains, Montbrison has about 15,500 inhabitants. Mentioned as early as the 9th century, Montbrison was born around the castle of the Counts of Forez, of which it became the capital in 870. Of its prestigious past, the city preserves a rich heritage of which the collegiate church Notre-Dame-d'Espérance, founded in 1223 is the most impressive illustration. Other places are worth seeing, such as the heraldic hall of the Diana (13th century), which has more than 1,700 coats of arms. This place also houses the Archaeological Museum of Forez; the complex of buildings of the current town hall (13th-18th), and former convent of Cordeliers; the college of Oratorians (18th), now a sub-prefecture; the Ursuline convent (18th century) and the Visitation convent (18th century), which became respectively the Victor de Laprade college and the Pierre Boulez music centre; the Penitents chapel (18th century), which was converted into a theatre; and many facades of former private mansions, which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. On the gastronomy side, it is impossible to miss the fourme de Montbrison and its market, crowned "the most beautiful market in France" in 2019.

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