Located in the south-west of Ain, Dombes, a vast argillaceous expanse dotted with a thousand or so ponds - the equivalent of over 10 000 hectares of water! - is a popular destination with wild birds, such as the mallard, purple heron, eared grebe, black-winged stilt, whiskered tern and red-crested pochard. Binoculars are essential in these parts to watch wild and migratory birds in peace and quiet without disturbing them. Nestling at the heart of a 380-hectare nature reserve, Villars-les-Dombes Bird Park offers visitors a bird's eye tour of the world, with over 2 000 birds of 400 species from all five continents!
As well as being a popular place for bird-watching, Dombes is also the leading freshwater fishing region in France, with an annual production of around 1 500 tonnes. It's a paradise for keen fishers of carp, roach and pike, who will be able to practise their favourite activity here, in the ponds and rivers provided for them.
A haven of peace for lovers of rural tourism and tranquillity, this area full of peaceful landscapes is ideal for walking, riding and cycling. The Dombes Route, a signposted discovery trail marked with themed signs, will enable you to discover a number of natural treasures. You'll find traditional heritage buildings such as farms made of rammed earth, half-timbered houses, castles, churches and fortified houses made of red brick. Bouligneux Feudal Castle, the Plantay Tower, the manor house-style Saint-Paul-de-Varax Castle, the Abbey of Our Lady of Dombes, Beaumont Chapel with its murals, the town of Trévoux - former capital of the principality of Dombes - the medieval towns of Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne and Pérouges, and Ars-sur-Formans Basilica are some of the sites to be discovered on this journey.
Dombes has been awarded the Remarkable Taste Site label and invites you to discover its gastronomic specialities such as carp (fried, stuffed, smoked, in a terrine, in a salad...), frogs (in parsley and garlic sauce, with cream...), and waterfowl.