In the east of France and to the east of Burgundy adjacent to Switzerland, the Ain in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region is probably a little overlooked by most visitors.
With Bourg-en-Bresse as its principal town it is a region of gentle hills and river valleys – which is one of the hidden parts of France.
The departement includes Bugey and the wines of Bugey. These are AOC wines – As such there are restrictions on grape varieties used and planting and harvesting techniques – and the grapes must be grown in the designated region. White wines from Chardonnay, Roussette; Rosé wines from Gamay and Poulsard; Reds from Gamay, Pinot and Mondeuse; and sparkling wines from Chardonnay. Seldom seen in the UK.
For more on the wines of Bugey see www.vinsdubugey.net
One of the highlights of the year is the celebration of the famous yellow corn-fed chickens from Bourg-en-Bresse – the Glorieuses de Bresse held every December shortly before Christmas – in the form of a market and other festivities held in Bourg-en-Bresse, Louhans, Pont de Vaux and Montrevel-en-Bresse – see www.glorieusesdebresse.com
More info – see the Ain Tourism Office
For an English run B&B in the region with a knowledgeable host and guide see Chez Scallan
- Stay in a Castle or Chateau In France
- Tour de France
- Bresse Chicken Festival
- Exploring Burgundy and Jura wines
- The 4th Gastronomic Wonder of the World!?
On the doorstep of Lyon, between the River Saône and the Rhône, Ain has managed to hold its own time and time again, leaving behind many beautiful buildings, tokens of its checkered past.
The Medieval Town of Pérouges, a former stronghold on what was a major trade route during the Middle Ages, has around 80 listed buildings within its double wall of ramparts. The town is classed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”.
Château des Allymes, Bugey’s sentinel, stands as a reminder of the internal fighting that broke out between Dauphiné and Savoy.
At Fort l’Ecluse, one of the last-remaining mountain forts in France, visitors can discover several different centuries of military architecture on one single site.
Ain could be the set of an 18th century film. Trévoux, the capital of the Dombes, attracted booksellers and printers imbued with the spirit of freedom of speech of the Enlightenment, as a result of its extraterritorial status. And it was in Ferney-Voltaire that Voltaire took up residence. Château de Voltaire, nicknamed the ‘Inn of Europe’, was to become the meeting place of guests from all over Enlightened Europe.
Holiday accommodation in Ain: hotels, B&Bs, self-catering