Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Medieval Fortified Hilltop Village

We left Bourg-en-Bresse for Vienne with a mid-day stop at Perouges which lays about 30 kms to the north before Lyon. We read about it in our trusty DK Eye Witness travel book which has never let us down in discovering the magic sights of France. It is old and dog eared with lots of highlight pen marks. Each highlight in the book brings back memories and Perouges is one of the many special moments.

This hilltop walled village has a population of only 900 today but back in the 13C it had 1500 people with a thriving linen weaving industry. By 19C it had only 90 inhabitants. An influx of artisans saw faithful restoration of the medieval homes in the village to where it has been used for the filming of several movies such as "the Three Musketeers, and Monsieur Vincent" which I must dig out now to remind me of Perouges.

We remember driving to the car park and on walking to the entrance of the village through its arched opening in the fortifications we were walking on cobblestone paths. You could feel each cobblestone through the soles of your shoes. Hob nail boots would have been better to wear.

Although Perouges was only about a quarter of the way to our next overnight stay in Vienne, there was no way we would have missed it. As with all the Beau Villages of France, you find a tranquil environment that is hard to drag yourself away from. Our short visit allowed us to have a decent wander through the streets, and a sit-down at one of the cafes under the spreading lime tree planted just after the revolution.

The first porte to Perouges

Followed by the second entrance which forms part of the fortifications and walls of the church. The steps to the left lead inside the fortified church.
Imagine walking on the roads within Perouges in your best leather high heels!

We spent time just pass the entrance to explore the church, then upwards to the main part of the village. It had a very authentic feel about it and you could see why it was used as a setting for movies of days gone by.
In the very centre of the village was Place de la Halle with this great lime tree as a centre piece supposedly planted in the very late 1700s as a monument to the revolution.

Some sections of Perouges is still being restored or are they still in a state of decay?
I did read somewhere there was a time where the village was being considered for demolition - glad it was saved.
It's not difficult to see why Perouges is one of the Beau Villages of France.
It is certainly amongst one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France".

After leaving Perouges we skirted Lyon on the way to Vienne which was a little less than 100kms along the main highways. Situated in the Rhone Valley, Vienne attracted us because of its fantastic and well preserved Roman remains from the first century, but more next Wednesday.

I mentioned earlier that Perouges due to its authenticity to medieval times, has been used as a location for many films - the following posters are from the films that I found. Maybe you have seen one or two.


  1. Sounds a lovely village, and I enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.

  2. Hi Vera,
    My eyes are a little bleary after watching the TdF into the early hours of the Australian mornings. Glad you travel with us on Wednesdays. Plenty more to come from past trips to France and hopefully more to come in the future.

  3. We are so glad that the demolition men did not get their way with Perouges. It is a lovely village. As for the cobblestones, We are not sure which is worse, walking them or cycling over them!! Keep well you two, D & N

    1. Walking on cobbles is not good for the "sole".
      Riding on cobbles is "tyresome".
      Sorry for the bad jokes but I couldn't help myself. (you will be pleased to hear Sue has been well)

  4. Very sad, I never heard of Perouges! It looks lovely. There are so many "les plus beaux villages de France" that I am not surprised that it is one of the most beautiful village of France. Not very far from where my sister has her countryside house in Aveyron, there is another " le plus beau village de France" dating from the Middle Ages : Saint Eulalie d'Olt. I love it in spring and summer when all the flowers are blooming. Just charming!

    1. Good to hear from you Nadege - I will Google St E d'O and maybe put it on our list for next time.

  5. Thank you so much Leon for reminding me about this beautiful village. I had seen it previously in my lovely book "One Hundred and One Beautiful Small Towns in France"...and the photos in the book are not nearly as lovely as yours! Perhaps when I go back next year, I will have a chance for a detour to see it in person.

    1. Hi Louise,
      You must talk to us about your trip next year. We might offer some advice and maybe offer some introduction.
      What areas do you hope to visit?


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