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An immersive experience in the stables: “The Great Departure"

Nestled in the heart of the picturesque market town of Apremont-sur-Allier, the Château d’Apremont stables are now the site for an immersive experience that takes visitors back to the early 20th century, to the era of horse-drawn carriages and the very first automobiles. Visitors will meet Eugène and Antoinette Schneider, the owners of the estate at that time, as well as their household staff who are busy preparing to leave for Paris. With “The Great Departure”, you are invited to step back in time to 1900, guided by a series of colourful characters and impressive scenes.

Daily life and the effervescent 19th century

The stables stand on the edge of the floral park, just a stone’s throw from the château itself. They were built by the 4th Marquis de Saint-Saveur in the first half of the 19th century. The stables replaced a “bottle blowing” glassworks set up in 1752 by the Countess de Béthune. Like many other glassworks in France, it ceased trading during the French Revolution, as there was a lack of wealthy buyers able to purchase such luxurious pieces.

Fully cobbled, the stables are equipped with 12 stalls bearing the name of each horse, 3 loose boxes and a large storeroom. They remain in perfect condition and bear witness to a time when horses played a major role in daily life. Grooms, stable boys and coachmen lived upstairs, just above the animals they looked after. Daily life on the estate was filled with the sound of hooves, neighs, and laughter coming from the staff who ran the household.

Immersion in the great era

“The Great Departure” concept emerged from a desire to tell the story of “the Great Era”, a time of effervescence marked by rapid industrialisation, and to showcase a spectacular collection of horse-drawn carriages from the 19th century. Upon entering the stables visitors are transported back to the summer of 1900. After being greeted in an old cinema by Marcel, the projectionist, and comfortably seated on period benches, visitors set off to meet Eugène and Antoinette Schneider, who owned the château at that time. Eugène Schneider, ironmaster and an important industrialist, was due to travel to Paris to inaugurate his own pavilion at the 1900 Universal Exhibition.

The visitor meets all the people who are busy preparing for Schneider’s trip as the 30-minute tour progresses. First you will meet Madeleine, Antoinette’s loyal maid. She is a friendly but absent-minded woman, who needs to run around a lot to make up for her forgetfulness. There is also Albert, the first coachman, who looks after the carriages. An irresistible father and son duo made up of Alphonse and Victor, a stable boy, come next. Visitors can also stop off in front of the forge to watch Gaston, a surly blacksmith with a strong Berrichon accent, and Pierrot, his assistant, at work.

Horses take centre stage throughout the tour. You will meet Daisy, a charming mare, Rayon d’or, Eugène Schneider’s spirited mount, and Prince, an adorable foal who has just joined the Apremont stables.

For all the family

Brought to life by cutting-edge technology and realistic backgrounds, “The Great Departure” is a whirlwind journey into the bustling life of the château and the stables at the beginning of the 20th century. It is suitable for the whole family, and it is guaranteed you will laugh, learn something new, and be touched by the lovable characters.
New for 2024 and not to be missed!