How to make a successful trip to Ain?
Ain is both a river and a department which is notably known for having been assigned the postal code 01. Of course, it would be unfair to reduce the whole department to this number since with its typical landscapes composed of green mountains and large parks, there are many interesting things to discover. This is exactly what we are going to focus on in this article since we are going to ask ourselves what to do in priority in Ain and when to leave to enjoy your trip.
What to do in Ain?
Ain being a predominantly rural department (its largest commune is Bourg-en-Bresse and has only 41,000 inhabitants), one generally goes there for its natural landscapes. This explains why the most visited and most interesting site for us is the Bird Park. As its name indicates, it is a zoological park which shelters a titanic collection of more than 3 000 birds from all over the world.
The area open to the public covers more than 35 hectares, so we advise you to plan a full day to explore everything. In addition to the natural areas where you can go hiking (on the Jura trails for example), some monuments are worth a visit, such as the royal monastery of Brou, which houses the municipal museum of Bourg-en-Bresse, where you can admire paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries.
If you like visiting museums, we recommend the Memorial of the exterminated Jewish children of Izieu which is a very important place of memory. Finally, if you are interested in the daily life in Bresse since the 18th century, the Domaine des Saveurs – Les Planons and its 3500 objects of collection is an interesting museum to visit with your family.
When to go in Ain?
The answer to this question depends on the type of activities you enjoy most. If you enjoy hiking in pleasant weather and are interested in bird watching, we would tend to recommend spring or fall. Unfortunately, summer is quite hot in the Ain, and you may suffer from the heat if you like outdoor activities.
On the other hand, winter is also a pleasant season in Ain: as there are beautiful small mountains (the Grand Colombier and the Reculet among others), it is possible to practice cross-country skiing. With its 146 km of double tracks, La Vattay is a very popular ski resort in the region. Nordic ski lovers will be delighted!
To conclude this article, Ain is a department that attracts tourists mainly for its large natural spaces where you can practice several types of sports activities (mountain biking, paragliding, canoeing…). As its landscapes are composed of mountains in which you can ski or hike, you can make a trip there as well in winter as in the milder seasons.
Top 10 sites not to be missed in Ain!
The Grand Parc Miribel Jonage
Located between the Miribel and Jonage canals, the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage is a 2,200-hectare park and protected site and is one of the largest metropolitan parks in Europe.
Leisure and outdoor activities in a preserved nature, an ideal site to discover with family or friends.
Learn more about the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage
The Parc des Oiseaux of Villars-les-Dombes
In the heart of Ain department, the ornithological park of Villars-les-Dombes invites you to discover the most beautiful species of birds (more than 60 are registered in the Red Book of endangered species in the wild) and splendid natural landscapes.
Learn more about the Parc des Oiseaux
Located on the French communes of Cerdon and Labalme, in the department of Ain, the Cerdon caves shelter an archaeological deposit.
The caves and the prehistoric leisure park are open to the public for their speleological interest.
Learn more about the Cerdon Caves
The lake of Sylans at Neyrolles
The lake of Sylans at Neyrolles is a natural lake located in the department of Ain. An accessible interpretation trail allows you to visit the site independently. The tourist office of Haut Bugey and the Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels also offer excursions.
Learn more about the lake of Sylans at Neyrolles
The Royal Monastery of Brou in Bourg-en-Bresse
The Royal Monastery of Brou in Bourg-en-Bresse is composed of monastic buildings, which are built around a church and three cloisters.
A masterpiece of the flamboyant Gothic style, the Royal Monastery of Brou was elected the favorite monument of the French during the 2014 Heritage Days.
Learn more about the Royal Monastery of Brou
The Massif du Grand Colombier
Located in Ain, the Grand Colombier is a summit of the southern part of the Jura massif, culminating at an altitude of 1 534 meters. The massif offers many marked hiking trails, GTJ (Grandes Traversées du Jura) itineraries and an exceptional panorama on the lakes of Belledonne, Mont-Blanc, Bugey, Rhône, Bourget, Annecy and Leman.
Learn more about the Massif du Grand Colombier
The Plateau du Retord
Located less than an hour from Lyon and Geneva and in the heart of the Bugey and Valromey region in the Jura, The Plateau du Retord is an ideal place to relax and enjoy all your winter and summer activities!
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The river Valserine
The Valserine is a river that flows between Jura and Ain and is a right bank tributary of the Rhône. Recognized for the quality of its waters, the river received the “Wild Rivers Site” label in October 2014.
An idyllic setting for a walk in the bowels of the river, from the heart of Bellegarde-sur-Valserine to the Pointe des Oulles where the waters of the river get lost in a canyon. The losses of the Valserine are a step not to be missed and stops are possible all along the river.
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Waterfall of Glandieu at Brégnier-Cordon
Located in Brégnier-Cordon, the Waterfall of Glandieu is a site classified as a “sensitive natural area”. Swimming, picnics and dogs are forbidden in order to preserve the protected fauna and flora.
However, it is possible to admire the impressive 60-meter waterfall from a landscaped area and a path along the water’s edge follows the natural course of the water.
Learn more about the Waterfall of Glandieu
Model Railway Museum
Unavoidable during your stay in Ain, the Model Railway Museum of Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne is an animated model of more than 200 m² realized by Patrick Crolle which will delight the amateurs and the passionate persons of railroad.
Learn more about the Model Railway Museum