The Dombes’ history dates back to the Middle Ages
Around the 11th century, Benedictine and Carthusian monks began developing the Dombes and created the first meres, or ponds, for breeding fish by flooding the marshes. Over time, the number of meres was increased in order to meet a growing demand for freshwater fish. The pools are filled for 3 to 4 years in order to fertilise the soil, then dried out so that cereal can be grown.
They are filled with rainwater, runoff and water from other nearby meres. Thanks to a perfectly mastered technique, ponds higher up fill the lower ones through a network of canals and ditches, ensuring that water, a precious resource, can be used in the most efficient way possible. The Dombes’ unique charm is due in large part to this respect for ancient traditions and practices.
Luscious lands, a safe haven for our feathered friends
From dawn to dusk, these meres provide the stage for unique performances. Sedentary, migratory and wintering birds find sanctuary here to feed, shelter and breed. Reed warblers, teals and common pochards sing in chorus while ducks, red-crested pochards and tufted ducks perform gentle ballets on the water.
And in spring, look out for kingfishers and egrets fishing for their breakfast!