About twenty kilometres from Lyon, on the borders of the Dombes, Bresse, Dauphiné and Lyonnais regions, the medieval town of Pérouges is one of the "most beautiful villages in France". The only one in the Ain.
A journey to the heart of the Middle Ages
With its medieval architecture among the best preserved in France, its cobbled streets and its craft shops, Pérouges is a hidden gem in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Built on a hill overlooking the Ain plain, the medieval town of just over a thousand inhabitants attracts nearly 300,000 visitors each year.
Behind the elliptical ramparts, between the Porte d'En Haut, the entry point to the old walled town, and the Porte d'En Bas, the old half-timbered houses and weavers' dwellings almost all date from the Renaissance. The Vernay house in Rue des Rondes is the most remarkable example. The small streets paved with round pebbles wind around these tall houses with mullioned windows and pink brick chimneys. Many of them have been transformed into craft shops, souvenir shops and traditional restaurants.
Also in the Rue des Rondes, you can discover the Maison du Sergent de Justice and its prison tower. At the bottom of the hill, the hamlet of Péage, extended by the mound of Saint-Georges, is the cradle of the town. Further on, in the rue des Contreforts, you can still admire the last parrot press that was once used to press grapes. At the entrance to the village, the church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine is also worth a look. This 15th century fortress church, whose bell tower served as a watchtower, is a rare building in the region.
The rampart walk
The ditch of the fortifications, vestiges of the old fortified castle of Pérouges, has given way to the promenade des Terreaux, which allows you to walk around the ramparts that give the town its elliptical shape. Fairs and bowling games were held here in the past. The last vineyards of the Chevalières can be seen here.
DID YOU KNOW THAT? Pérouges has been the setting for many cloak and dagger films such as "Les Trois Mousquetaires" (1961) or "Angélique Marquise des Anges" for the most famous.
The Place du Tilleul
In the centre of the village, the Place de la Halle is the beating heart of the old weaving town. A majestic lime tree, an authentic tree of freedom, planted in 1792, still spreads its abundant foliage. This is where the market is held every Saturday. It is also here that the Hostellerie du Vieux Pérouges stands, a 13th century manor house and one of the oldest inns in France. This is an opportunity to taste a real Bresse chicken or a delicious Bresse cake from Pérouges, fresh from the oven, washed down with a sparkling Cerdon du Bugey.
The Museum of Old Pérouges
Housed in the House of the Princes of Savoy (14th - 15th century), the Museum of Old Pérouges is another point of interest for visitors who are looking for a place to visit.