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What to do, what to see in the Dombes

la Dombes vue du ciel

©Dombes Tourisme

What to do, what to see in the Dombes



The Dombes


Map of activities in the Dombes




The Dombes is located in the Ain department, about 30 km north-east of Lyon. This region, which is composed of a multitude of ponds, is also called the region of 1000 ponds.

The presence of these ponds of human origin allows fish farming. It is indeed monks in the 11th century who created the first ponds to have fish reserves and to be able to feed themselves more easily because it was a large marshy area. These fish farms still exist today and offer fishing enthusiasts many areas for their favourite pastime. It is now the leading region in France for freshwater fish production.

Carp is one of the most cultivated fish, and frogs can also be eaten and are offered by many restaurants.

These numerous ponds are therefore the ideal habitat for many species of birds, more than 100 different species that come to nest there finding an abundance of food and an environment where man is less present leaving them the tranquillity they need.

It is therefore also the ideal place to go for a walk or a bike ride, to get into the green and enjoy a nature that is just waiting to be discovered.

We are going to present you some of the main things to do or to see in the Dombes, namely :

  • Chatillon sur Challaronne
  • Trévoux
  • Ars sur Formans
  • Le parc des Oiseaux
  • Montluel
  • Perouges
  • Visite des étangs et découverte des oiseaux
  • Bouligneux




Things to do in Dombes

Here are a few sites that are worth taking the time to visit.




Chatillon sur Chalaronne

Chatillon sur Chalaronne

Chatillon sur Chalaronne

This town in the heart of the Dombes is only 1 hour from Lyon. It is a small medieval town which has kept all its charm. If you have the opportunity to go there on Saturday, you can enjoy the market under the perfectly preserved 15th century wooden halls. This market is one of the most important in the region.

Take the time to stroll through the streets to discover the half-timbered houses. Take the opportunity to visit the 14th century Saint André church. Place Saint Vincent de Paul to see the old salt store.

Chatillon sur Chalaronne is also highlighted by its flowering which makes it very pleasant to discover especially in spring and summer.









St Symphorien Church in Trévoux


This medieval town on the banks of the Saône is the former capital of the principality of Dombes.

At the top of the town there is still the fortified castle which has kept its octagonal keep from the 13th century. From its summit you can see the Saône, the Beaujolais and the Monts d’Or.

After the castle, visit the town centre to admire the 17th and 18th century mansions and the former palace of the Dombes parliament.

You can also take advantage of the banks of the Saône, which offer the setting for beautiful walks or bike rides. Trévoux is indeed on the Voie Bleue which links Lyon to Luxembourg.

Not far from Trévoux, you can see the castle of Fléchères in Fareins. This 17th century castle is worth a visit for its architecture and gardens. Beautiful frescoes were revealed during the restoration of the walls.

You can find more information on the website of  the Ars Trévoux Tourism Office.




Ars sur Formans

The town is famous for the Curé d’Ars who was appointed to Ars in 1818 to officiate and evangelise the population. The town welcomes many pilgrims who come to discover the town of the famous curé. You can visit the Basilica of Saint Sixtus and the wax museum which depicts the life of the Curé with 17 scenes and 35 wax statues recreating the life of the Curé.




The bird parc

Located in Villars les Dombes, the Bird Park is a paradise for children who can discover 300 species of birds from several continents. During the visit, you will be able to watch the birds in flight, which will delight both young and old. This park will allow you to spend a pleasant moment before going to see the birds in their natural environment in the ponds.





Situated at the southern gateway to the Dombes, Montluel can be the base for your discovery tours of the region, whether it be the Dombes, Lyon, Pérouges and many others. During your stay you can discover the medieval monuments that remain in the town: the prison, the wash house, the 13th century St Bartholomew’s Chapel.





Located in the south of the Dombes, take time to visit this medieval town. Built on a hill, the village overlooks the Ain Valley and is one of the most beautiful villages in France.

The village of Pérouges has kept its medieval architecture, all the streets are paved and you are projected back to the Middle Ages while walking in its streets. Do not hesitate to visit its fortress church built against the ramparts which had the function of defense and worship. It is one of the few fortress churches in France.

You can’t leave this village without tasting its speciality, the galette de Pérouges.

Pérouges is also known for its music festival, the Printemps de Pérouges, which takes place in September.




Visit of  the ponds and discovery of the birds


If you come to visit the Dombes you cannot miss a walk in the middle of the ponds. This is an opportunity to observe birds in their natural habitat and to combine the pleasures of a walk in a preserved environment with the observation of the different species of birds present in the ponds.

Around Chatillon sur Chalaronne there are observation points where you can see the birds. You will find the following ponds:

Etang de Prêle to the south west of Chatillon. This pond is well suited to children with enigma games,
Chapelier pond to the south east of Chatillon. This is one of the largest ponds with 2 observation points,
Vernange pond south of Chatillon

Many circuits are organised so that you can find a walk which corresponds to the time you have and the number of kilometres you want to do. Signposts will help you not to get lost and to enjoy the visit.



Dombes étang et vanne


héron dans la Dombes



















The village of Bouligneux may be an idea for an outing. You can see its castle which dates from the XIV – XVII centuries. It is an old fortified house which has kept all its character.

Bouligneux is also famous for its restaurants which offer you the specialities of the Dombes, carp and frogs.

If you make this gastronomic stop, you can take a short walk among the ponds and birds. When leaving the village (opposite the castle) take the first road on the left and follow the signs, the hike is indicated. It takes about an hour if you walk slowly.








Discovery of Dombes by bike

You can also discover the Dombes region by bike by taking advantage of the “L’Ain by bike” discovery tours, which offer numerous possibilities for discovering the ponds.

These few ideas are only a part of what you can do in our region. There are many other activities available to you.


For more information on the Dombes, please visit the website dedicated to tourism in the Dombes.




Flat at your disposal

Our flat in Montluel is at your disposal if you are looking for accommodation for your stay in the Dombes. You have the possibility to book our flat by clicking here.

Do not hesitate to consult our website :


vue du rez de chaussée Montluel

Flat at your disposal at Montluel


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