Ars-sur-Formans is a village in the Ain department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, some 35 km north of Lyon.
The locality with approximately 1400 inhabitants is located in the natural area of the Dombes, renowned for its ponds and its natural heritage diversified in terms of fauna and flora.
However, the village reached international notoriety because of its "holy parish priest" who in the 19th century, Jean-Marie Vianney (1786-1859), was beatified and then canonized at the beginning of the 20th century. It was proclaimed in 1929 "patron of all the Cures of the universe". Living very humbly, he devoted himself for more than forty years to his parishioners, founded educational establishments for young girls as well as for boys. He is credited with miracles and healings, but during his lifetime, this indefatigable confessor was already attracting faithful from afar to share his faith and hear his homilies. This enthusiasm has remained perennial, and there are 550,000 annual pilgrims in Ars, where a sanctuary is devoted to the "holy cure". A basilica and a historial were built to accommodate pilgrims and visitors.
The basilica was built as of 1862, in extension of the old church where Jean-Marie Vianney, who had died three years before, officiated. The primitive church was thus partially preserved, notably the nave. The choir and transept of the basilica are in neo-Byzantine style, evoking the same architectural bias as in Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The pulpit where the "holy priest" preached was preserved. The whole was classified.
The presbytery, which was also preserved as a chapel sheltering relics, is also open to the visit.
Now owned by local authorities, the historial (or wax museum of the "holy priest") traces the life of the saint in 17 scenes (with wax figures according to the technique of the Grévin Museum). Open from October to March: Monday from 2 pm to 5 pm, Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 12 am and from 2 pm to 5 pm, Sundays and public holidays from 11 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm. Price: 6 euros.
In the village, to see also the castle of Ars, built on an old feudal clod. Having once had a military vocation, the building was first renovated in the fourteenth century, then after the Revolution. In bricks typical of the region for its oldest parts, in golden stone of the Beaujolais for the more recent ones, it is a private property but the castle is open to the visit during the Days of the Patrimony in September.
Note that one can enjoy in Ars-sur-Formans a communal water plan reserved for walkers and fishermen. Like the surrounding countryside, it reflects the environmental richness of the Dombes region.
The life of the locality being linked to the memory and cult of its "holy priest", several religious highlights mark the year.
The second Sunday of February is celebrated the arrival of the parish priest in the village. Besides offices, a procession takes place in the streets.
Same thing in June at the Feast of God and every August 4 (anniversary of the saint's death), when a concert closes the celebrations.
On the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, finally, on December 8, illuminations and animations are organized in the village.
In a different register, to know more about the regional terroir, a market takes place every Friday, and on the first Saturday in July, a festive and gourmet market is organized from 4pm to 10pm.