If you are staying in the Rhône area of France and looking for an easy day trip from Lyon, you may be asking yourself is Perouges France worth visiting. Perouges is a sleepy medieval walled village and a visit to this hidden gem is a must if you are in the area.
The historic and tranquil setting of Perouges will transport you back in time. In addition, this charming village is also listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France)
Where is Perouges France?
Perouges is a small commune in the Ain department in eastern France. This picturesque medieval walled village is situated on the edge of the Dombes plateau on a small hill overlooking the plain of the River Ain.
📍 Map Here
Perouges is easily accessible from nearby Lyon. The village is located 36 km north east of the city which is approximately 30 minutes by car. It is also possible to reach Perouges by public transport from Lyon (see below for further information).
What to Do in Perouges France?
To discover the charm of Perouges, you will probably only need to spend 1-2 hours here. However, if you stop to have lunch, you could easily spend half a day soaking up the timeless atmosphere of Perouges, exploring its cobbled streets and visiting its small museums.
Here are some ideas of what to do in Perouges followed by a useful list of what to see in Perouges.
Perouges France Video Guide
Visit the Tourist Office of Perouges France
The first thing you may want to do on arrival in Perouges is to visit the Tourist Office. This is located directly opposite the entrance to Perouges which is via the Rue de la Porte d’en Haut.
Although Perouges is a small village, the Tourist Office can provide you with a map of the village and some information about its history.
Wander and Explore Perouges France
Perouges is an enchanting and well-preserved medieval village, so one of the best things to do in Perouges is to take time to roam the cobbled streets and enjoy its peaceful atmosphere.
The village is full of picturesque half-timbered and stone buildings covered with hanging vines and displays of brightly coloured flowers. Fortunately, the buildings of Perouges were restored in the early 1900s. This is because the village fell into decline owing to the construction of new roads and railroads which bypassed the once flourishing village.
To explore Perouges, you could follow the Rue des Rondes which is a circular route around the village or explore the quaint side streets at your leisure. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes to help you navigate the cobblestones!
Browse the Artisan Craft Shops
Despite being a relatively popular tourist spot, Perouges is completely unspoilt. It still has a timeless feel as there are no tacky souvenir shops. Instead, the historic buildings are home to a handful of artisan craft shops which complement the village’s history of craftmanship.
If you want to support the local community, take time to browse the small shops. Perhaps you will find an interesting souvenir to remind you of your visit to Perouges!
Enjoy Local Food in Perouges France
Given the small size of Perouges, there is a fairly limited choice of restaurants in the village. The oldest and perhaps most well-known inn is the Hostellerie du Vieux Perouges.
In fact, the Hostellerie du Vieux Perouges is one of the oldest inns in France. It is situated on the village’s main square called the Place du Tilleul. The inn serves regional dishes and also offers comfortable accommodation.
What to Eat in Perouges France?
Whilst you are in Perouges, make sure you try some of the local specialities. These include the Galette de Perouges or Galette Pérougienne which is a sweet flat cake. There is a small shop selling these on the Rue des Rondes, so you can take them away to try.
Other local specialities include morel mushrooms, crayfish, lake and pond fish, Bresse poultry, Hypocras wine from the Middle Ages and the Bugey wines of today.
What to See in Perouges France?
The medieval walled village of Perouges has a rural setting and offers great photo opportunities for visitors. It is lovely to walk around this picturesque village and be immersed in its authentic medieval houses and narrow cobblestone streets. Here are some of things you will see in Perouges:
La Porte d’en Haut, Perouges France (The Upper Gate)
The main entrance to Perouges is through the ancient stone gate called La Porte d’en Haut. The ancient Upper Gate towers over your head at more than 15 m high and forms part of the fortified ramparts. The tower was built in the 13th century and is classed as a French Historical Monument.
Before you enter the Upper Gate, you will walk under the outer defence of the walled village, the Barbacane (barbican).
La Porte d’En Bas, Perouges France (The Lower Gate)
It is also possible to enter Perouges via the Porte d’en Bas (The Lower Gate). This gate is also known as the Langlois’ Gate.
Église-Forteresse or Église Sainte Marie Madeleine, Perouges (Fortress Church or Church of Saint Mary Magdalene Church)
The Fortress Church in Perouges is a fortified Catholic church which dates back to the 15th century. The church is situated immediately to the left of the Upper Gate and is another French Historical Monument.
The church played an important role in defending access to the medieval village of Perouges. It forms part of the village’s defensive walls and has narrow stained-glass windows and loopholes.
Rue des Princes, Perouges France
The Rue des Princes was once one of the main thoroughfares in the village. The Maison des Princes (House of Princes) is found here and today houses the Musée du Vieux Perouges.
Place du Tilleul (Place de la Halle), Perouges France
The Place du Tilleul is the main square at the heart of Perouges. Originally, the square was called Place de la Halle until its covered market burnt down in 1839.
Today, the square is named after the Lime tree which has stood in the centre of the square since 1792. The tree was planted during the French Revolution so is also known as the Liberty Tree.
The Place du Tilleul is extremely picturesque and is the location of many of the village’s restaurants and hotels including the Hostellerie du Vieux Perouges.
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Musée du Vieux Perouges France (Museum of Old Perouges)
The Musée du Vieux Perouges is located on the Rue des Princes and has 3 parts:
1. La Maison des Princes, Perouges France (The House of Princes)
The House of Princes used to belong to the Dukes of Savoy and dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. This French Historical Monument has 4 exhibition rooms which display famous contemporary art.
2. La Tour de Guet, Perouges France (The Watch Tower)
The Watch Tower offers amazing panoramic views over the roof tiles of Perouges and beyond. On a clear day, you can enjoy views over the Dombes plateau, the plain of the River Ain and even Mont Blanc!
Under the top of the tower, there is also an exhibition of a traditional weaver’s workshop with authentic equipment and tools.
4. L’Hortulus, Perouges France (The Hortulus Garden)
The Hortulus is an authentic reproduction of a medieval garden which is only accessible via the museum. Its geometric form includes a love square, a medicinal square and a vegetable square.
Where to Park in Perouges France?
Hopefully, we have persuaded you to spend a few hours discovering beautiful Perouges! When you visit, you will need to park before you reach Perouges as the medieval village is pedestrianised. However, the car parks are clearly signposted, and it is relatively easy to park when you visit Perouges.
We recently visited Perouges on our way to Lyon from Strasbourg. As we approached the village, we managed to find a free parking space on the roadside as we turned off the D4.
However, the main parking area for visitors to Perouges is the Parking des Combes de la Cité de Perouges on the Route de la Cité. The cost of this car park is 2 Euros and there is a short 10-minute walk uphill to Perouges. If you are lucky, you may find a space in another car park which is closer.
How to Get to Perouges from Lyon
Perouges is easily accessible from Lyon by car or by public transport.
Travelling to Perouges by car is the easiest and most convenient way to enjoy this medieval village. The village is situated off the A42 and is a 30-minute journey by car from the city of Lyon. Parking is available just outside the medieval village as outlined above.
If you don’t have a car, you can still enjoy discovering Perouges during your stay in Lyon. Trains run between Lyon Part-Dieu station and Meximieux-Perouges. The journey time is also approximately 30 minutes by train.
However, Meximieux is a small town 1.5 km east of Perouges. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the station to the medieval village of Perouges. It is worth knowing that some of the walk is uphill.
Alternatively, you can visit Perouges from Lyon by bus. You need to take bus line 132 which is the Lyon-Bourg en Bresse line.
This bus line starts in central Lyon. Stops in Lyon include Pont de la Guillotière, Cordeliers, Hôtel de Ville – Louis Pradel and Pont de Lattre. The bus journey from Lyon to Perouges lasts about 1 hour 10 minutes.
The bus stop for Perouges is the Gendarmerie – Route de Perouges. From the bus stop, it is a 17-minute walk uphill to the medieval village.