MONTLUCON, the industrial capital of the centre of France, sometimes called the French Manchester, is the head of an arrondissement, and the largest town (26,079 inhabitants in 1881) of the department of Allier. The upper town consists of steep, narrow, winding streets, and preserves several buildings of the 15th and 16th centuries ; the lower town, traversed by the river Cher (there converted into a canal communicating with that along the Loire), is the scat of the manufacturing industries, which embrace glass, steel, and iron works, lime-kilns, saw-mills, and a wool-spinning factory. The Commentry coal-mines are only a few miles distant. There is railway connexion with Moulins (50 miles to the east-north-east), Bourges, Limoges, and Clermont-Ferrand, and a new line is about to be opened to Tours via Chateauroux. Of the churches, Notre Dame is of the 15th century, St Pierre partly of the 12th, and St Paul modern. The town-hall, with a library, occupies the site of an old Ursuline convent, and two other convents now serve as college and hospital.
Montlupon, which existed as early as the 10th century, was taken by the English in 1171 and by Philippe Auguste in 1181 ; the English were beaten under its walls in the 14th century. The castle, rebuilt by Louis II., duke of Bourbon, was taken by Henry IV. during the religious wars ; at present it is occupied as a barracks.