Visiting Ain: what are the best things to do and see between green valleys and pristine mountains?
Are you going to visit the Ain? Excellent idea because it is a paradise for lovers of clean air and wide-open spaces. Whether you enjoy fishing, mountain hikes, or local products, you will feel at home. Paragliding, caving, horseback riding, mountain bike trails, or canoe descents are must-sees in this nature department!
There is no shortage of leisure activities in the Ain. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to realize whether you are staying in the city or the countryside. If it can be difficult to choose, Travelvibe has decided to help you organize your trip.
Are you wondering what to do in Ain during your trip? Here is a selection of the essential activities when you come to visit the Ain and want to make the most of your stay!
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The 15 Best Things To Do in Ain
1. Grand park of Miribel-Jonage
The Grand Parc Miribel Jonage covers nearly 2,200 hectares near the Lyon conurbation. This area developed on the artificial island of Miribel-Jonage constitutes a fantastic leisure area for the inhabitants of Greater Lyon.
The park has four main functions: a drinking water backup reservoir, a flood zone protecting the Lyon conurbation in the event of floods, and a natural heritage protection zone. Finally, it serves as a leisure area: a nautical base, golf course, and many other surprises await the curious who come to visit the Ain.
2. Bird Park
It is in Villars-les-Dombes that we find this exceptional zoological park. Established in 1970, the Bird Park is one of the oldest bird parks in France. Young and old looking for what to do in the Ain can come and admire a formidable collection of nearly 3,000 birds from all over the world.
The park is part of a colossal nature reserve that covers nearly 380 hectares in the heart of the Dombes. The park opens to the public and is much smaller in size: 35 hectares can be surveyed all year round. The visit to the park is certainly a tourist must that will delight nature lovers: when do you go there?
3. Caves of Cerdon
The caves of Cerdon are a formidable natural area located in the French communes of Cerdon and Labalme. They are open to the public and house an exceptional archaeological site. People come from all over Europe to admire spectacular geological formations and enjoy, on summer days, the freshness of the place. Yes, it can be hot in the Ain!
Lovers of caving, thrills, or unforgettable excursions will feel at home. When looking to visit the Ain it may be appropriate to go there to explore these great creations of Mother Nature.
4. Lake Sylans
Lake Sylans is located in a cluse, i.e. a valley carved by a river flowing perpendicular to the mountain. If we tell you about it, it is because it is a paradise for those who love fishing. We do not necessarily think about it but this activity is a tourist must do in the Ain!
The department is full of fantastic water points and Lake Sylans is one of the best. You can enjoy a nice afternoon dedicated to swimming or try to catch pike, bream, carp, or whitefish. The best? Rent a small boat and enjoy a moment of relaxation with family or friends.
5. The Royal Monastery of Brou
Photo credit: Wikipedia – Benoit Prieur
The Royal Monastery of Brou is a must for heritage lovers. This masterpiece of Gothic art consists of a vast set of monastic mansions built between 1506 and 1512.
On the ground floor, a museum exhibits many statues from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century that will allow you to discover the mastery of the artists of the time. The entire floor is devoted to the collections of more modern paintings.
Great masters are exhibited there: Bernard Van Orley, Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Colijn de Coter, Nicolas Victor Fonville, Gustave Doré… Sublime pieces make the monastery a must to visit in the Ain.
6. The Grand Colombier
Photo credit: Wikipedia – Rolf Süssbrich
Wow! The Grand Colombier is a summit of the Jura massif that culminates at an altitude of 1,534 meters. It serves as a sumptuous natural gazebo for lovers of grandiose panoramas.
At the top, you will be able to admire the parade of the Lock, the Jura Mountains, the Vuache, and the Salève. The view leads to the beautiful Lake Geneva, Geneva, and the Bernese Alps! Want more? In good weather, the Aravis massif, Mont Blanc, Vanoise, Bauges and Belledonne massif loom on the horizon.
Ah, one last thing: cycling enthusiasts will be particularly thrilled on the coasts of the Grand Colombier.
7. The Retord Plateau
Photo credit: Wikipedia – Jddmano
The Retord Plateau is a natural formation within the Jura Mountains. Easily accessible from Lyon or Geneva, people come to practice a multitude of different activities. It would be a shame to visit the Ain without making a passage through the plateau of Retord which offers winter and summer leisure.
On the menu: skiing, snowshoeing, sled dogs, or biathlon. And during the summer season, paragliding, hiking, climbing, or mountain biking are practiced on the Retord plateau!
Definitely, you will be conquered all year round by the beauty of the place. Come with your family, the resort is particularly suitable!
8. The Valserine
The Valserine is a sumptuous river flowing quietly through the department. Along its banks, a path offers exceptional views of the natural channels formed over the centuries. Some formations are known throughout Europe: the Devil’s Bridge, the Stone Bridge, and the famous losses of the Valserine.
This mysterious limestone plate sees the flood of water that disappears there as if by magic… Our advice? If you are looking for what to do in the Ain and you enjoy the pleasures of hiking, do not hesitate to go there.
9. The Tonic Plain
What, another leisure area? But of course, since the department offers superb ones! The Plaine Tonique has the particularity of being inserted in a protected natural area. This gigantic water leisure park covers nearly 95 hectares. It attracts young and old who come to practice canoeing, water skiing, towed buoy, pedal boat, and even parasailing.
La Plaine Tonique also offers a beautiful sandy beach to relax and sunbathe in peace. A pool of natural hot water at 28 ° C will comfort the most chilly. If you are still looking for what to do in the Ain, you now know where to go!
10. Glandieu Waterfall
The Glandieu waterfall is a sumptuous natural site. It is actually a waterfall that springs from… more than 60 m high! Sensations guaranteed. The natural site is popular with photographers who come to visit the Ain and we understand why.
Each season turns the waterfall into a phenomenal show. Particularly massive in autumn and spring, winter, it freezes during the coldest days of the year! This tourist point of interest is clearly worth a visit at any time of the year, so do not hesitate to go there.
11. The Miniature Train Museum
The Miniature Train Museum is an unmissable tourist to visit in the Ain and more precisely in Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne. This impressive work was born in the 1980s: it is a gigantic animated model of more than 200 m².
Composed of decorations and buildings more real than life, it will allow young and old to admire a remarkable work of patience and passion.
12. Nordic domain of Sur-Lyand
Sur-Lyand, very close to the Grand Colombier, is located at about 1,300 meters above sea level. This nordic area is particularly frequented during the winter season by tourists from all over France. Perfectly integrated into a preserved natural space, you can enjoy many fun or sports activities.
Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding or sledding… Sur-Lyand has established itself as a reference station to visit in the Ain. The ideal? Come and have fun with your family: the resort is particularly oriented towards a clientele looking for peaceful leisure.
13. The Forest Farm
Photo credit: Wikipedia – abac077
It is in the heart of Bresse, more precisely in St-Trivier-de-Courtes, that we find this authentic traditional farm. In fact, it is a farm museum consisting of three typical buildings dating from the sixteenth century.
Classified as a Historic Monument since 1930, this half-timbered farm is a mine of information for heritage lovers. We come to discover the agricultural techniques of yesteryear but also to admire the customs of the time.
Folklore is preserved here and one can participate in exciting workshops. Hemp weaving techniques or traditional dances are among the must-sees: the Ferme de la Forêt is definitely one of the best activities to do in the Ain.
14. Lavours Marsh National Nature Reserve
Photo credit: Wikipedia – Chabe01
The Marais de Lavours is a nature reserve of 500 hectares. It is located at the foot of the Grand Colombier massif in the town of Ceyzérieu. You can walk a trail on stilts more than a kilometer long that allows you to discover exceptional natural environments.
To make sure you don’t miss anything, indications of the species that nest there and educational panels allow you to learn more about the treasures of the marsh. This didactic outing is a must to visit in Ain: what are you waiting for to get there, with family or friends?
15. The medieval cities of Ain
L’Ain is a great site of French medieval heritage. For example, the city of Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne, which is located in the heart of the Dombes, is full of picturesque treasures. In addition to its fifteenth-century halls where the Saturday market is held, you can admire the remains of the fortified ramparts of the old castle. Many museums are located there!
Pérouges, a sumptuous hilltop village, includes a fortified church, a parish priest’s garden, a square tower… it really feels like we’re back in the Middle Ages! The medieval city organizes superb traditional festivals and festivals including the Medieval Festival which is held every year in June. What are you waiting for to participate when you come to visit Ain?
How to go to Ain?
The easiest way to get to Ain by air is to land at Lyon-Saint-Exupéry International Airport. Moreover, the Skyscanner flight comparator will allow you to get there by finding a flight at the best price.
You can also take advantage of the Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu where the TGV stops, then use a rental car to reach Bourg-en-Bresse. Thus, you will be able to shine on the department and visit its must-sees.
By road, take the A42 motorway linking Lyon to Pont-d’Ain or the A40 and A39 motorways to Geneva/Chamonix and Mulhouse. Once there, given the configuration of this rural department, the best is clearly to rent a vehicle to get around smoothly. The road network is of rather good quality: take advantage of it!
Where to stay in the Ain?
When looking for what to do in the Ain, you must also look for accommodation. You will find on-site several types of accommodation to choose from according to your desires and your budget. Bourg-en-Bresse, a very touristic town, is home to several renowned hotel establishments. Attention: the rates are reasonable but increase during the summer!
Our advice: use a hotel manager directly. This will allow you to find the most suitable solution for your budget and your desires.
In addition, the department has a very interesting rental offer in pretty villages. Belley, Divonne-les-Bains, Oncieu, Pérouges or Meillonnas can serve as a pied-à-terre of choice to visit the Ain. Take a look at them!
Prepare your suitcases now and discover this department!