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The eight most beautiful castles in Cerdon Vallée de l'Ain to see, 1 hour from Lyon and Geneva

Made up of 14 municipalities stretching along the Ain River, the Cerdon Vallée de l'Ain country invites you on a journey through time to discover its most beautiful castles! Treasures of heritage and architecture over the centuries, more than fifty castles punctuate the territory but few of them are open to the public ... To admire from afar or to explore during an exceptional visit, here are the eight emblematic castles of this exceptional heritage.


Le château de Varey - Saint Jean le Vieux


Located on the heights of the vineyard hamlet of Varey, this 12th century fortified castle was one of the most important strongholds in Bugey during the Middle Ages. On August 7, 1325, it was the site of the eponymous bloody battle of the Delphic-Savoyard wars which lasted until the 15th century. Victim of the throes of the Revolution, the castle was greatly destroyed during this period. Only a few medieval ruins remain which inspired the romantics of the time. The reconstruction of the castle took place in the 19th century on the existing foundations of the old in a more modern style. Its towers with pointed roofs and deep moats still recall the days of the knights and the epic conflicts of the Middle Ages. It is now occupied by an ITEP (therapeutic educational and pedagogical institute).

Le château de Thol - Neuville sur Ain


Nestled in the hollow of a forest at the top of a hill, this fortress with little-known history dates back to the 14th century. Ruined for many years, the castle retains its medieval square wall and many of its towers, which gives it a romantic and mysterious atmosphere. In July 2019, the Scart family acquired the castle in order to safeguard it and can count on the support of the "Les Paladins de Thol" association to highlight the restoration work and bring the site to life.



Le château de Varambon


Overlooking the small medieval village of Varambon on the banks of the Ain river, Varambon Castle is a 19th century property. In the heart of a park wooded with Lebanese cedars, the main building has kept its 18th century appearance, but the eastern facade has been transformed with the addition of two octagonal towers with pointed roofs. Its mixed materials of stone, brick and slate give it a motley charm. Classified as a Historic Monument, its owner, the Count of Boissieu, has had part of it converted into accommodation and offers tours to the general public during the summer season.



Le château de Poncin


Occupying the heart of the village, this castle was built in 1290 by the Thoire and Villars family. It then takes the form of a square fortress with an imposing dungeon and furnished with three square towers. Over the centuries, there have been many transformations due to modifications and destruction. In the 17th century, the Marquis Joseph de la Poype Saint-Julien decided to build a new castle next to the old castle. It is a long building inspired by Venetian villas with several wings and garden terraces. Now private, the castle cannot be visited except for its gardens, which are open once or twice a year for events.



Le château de Pont d’Ain


Built between the original ramparts of the village, the Château de Pont d’Ain was renowned for its healthiness. Property of the famous Dukes of Savoy, several princesses of the House came to give birth and raise their children.

The most famous owner of the castle is undoubtedly Philibert II of Savoy, dit le Beau. It was in the heart of the property that he lived his love marriage with his wife Marguerite of Savoy. It was also in the castle that he died in 1504, causing such grief to his wife that she built the royal monastery of Brou to house his tomb. Today the remodeled castle is listed as a historical monument and has been divided into several rental accommodation.



Le château de Chenavel - Jujurieux


This castle, located away from the town, illustrates the influence of the leaders of Soieries Bonnet on the occupation of prestigious properties in the village. In 1844, Claude-Joseph Bonnet, founder of the Lyon silk factory, bought the castle and had it remodeled. He transforms it into a rest home for young girls who live in his various factories. Today, this horseshoe-shaped castle with its two square towers on the facade belongs to new owners who are working to restore it.



Le château de Lhuire - Jujurieux


Overlooking a deep ravine and bordered by cliffs on three sides, the Châtelard de Lhuire is one of the oldest castles in the area. Traces of construction date back to the 7th century and a Gallo-Roman burial is attested within the property.

During its long existence, it passed into the hands of several families, from the Dukes of Savoy until its last owner nicknamed the “last lady of Châtelard” in 1787. This building, now renovated by a private owner, has kept all its charm of the Middle Ages with its remains of ramparts and its gate still standing.

The castle is famous among devotees of spectral stories: it is the site of a famous legend told for generations. The white lady of Château de Lhuire, widow of an impetuous lord who died in battle would haunt the place on misty nights ... This legend has inspired many artists over time and has even led to a paranormal investigation!



Le château des Echelles - Jujurieux


Set in the heart of the village, the stronghold originally built was a small independent fiefdom belonging to the end of the 13th century to the Echelles family. Acquired in 1780 by Joseph Orsel, advisor to the King in the Sénéchaussée and presidial seat of Lyon, this owner almost met a tragic fate. He was arrested during the Revolution and promised to be on the scaffold, but he was fortunate enough to be freed thanks to the intervention of the inhabitants of Jujurieux. In 1918, the castle returned to distant relatives, the Orsel des Sagets who still own it. The current architecture of the castle comes from the 17th century and consists of three U-shaped buildings framing a courtyard adorned with a charming wrought iron well. The castle is famous for its murals depicting scenes from ancient mythology and neighboring towns during the Grand Siècle.



Le château de Sénèche - Jujurieux


This castle was built at the end of the 19th century by the Lyonnais architect Malaval for Cyrille Cottin, grandson of Claude-Joseph Bonnet and director of the factory. Inaugurated in 1897, the property is divided into two parts: a castle and a farm below the old-fashioned charm that recalls that of Marie-Antoinette at the Hameau de la Reine de Versailles.



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