Continuing with my recap of this October’s vacation in Lyon, I also made day trips from the city to nearby villages. Before deciding to go to Lyon, I’d also thought about where to go outside of it, eventually narrowing my choices down to two places: Pérouges and the Palais Idéal in Hauterives. I’d also decided to break them up into two separate trips on two separate days while in Lyon, so that it wouldn’t be too overwhelming– besides, both places aren’t necessarily close to each other, so a single day trip wouldn’t have made any sense.
At first, I’d intended on visiting the Palais Idéal first, then Pérouges afterwards. Considering that public transport to get to the former was quite limited, I had to make sure to time things perfectly, e.g. leave before 6 am, so as not to miss the train/bus over. That said, I’d set my alarm for 5:15 the night before but, when I woke up the following day, I checked and it was already 6:05! Apparently, I’d made the grave mistake of setting the alarm for the day after, and I ended up missing the train which would eventually take me to the Palais Idéal.
Although I was rather disappointed and *slightly* mad at myself for making the mistake, I wasn’t too upset since I ended up just switching the itinerary for the two day trips: I would go to Pérouges first, then the Palais Idéal the next day. At least with the former, public transport wasn’t as limited, as I headed out around 8:00 towards Hôtel Dieu near the Rhône to catch the 8:30 bus to Pérouges. It was about a 45-50 minute journey and eventually, the bus driver dropped me off at the nearest stop located about one kilometer away from the village itself, so I had to walk for about 15-20 minutes up a steady incline to reach the place, reputed to be one of the “most beautiful villages in France.”
Historically-speaking, Pérouges was known for its farmer and craftsman industries, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. Today, it’s a charming, fortified village with literally no more than 10 streets, a population of about 1200 people, and plenty of charm for attracting tourists over every single year. I’m told that peak season is in the summer (when the weather’s nice and sunny), but when I went this past October, it appeared that tourism had slowed down for the year. Still beautiful, though!
Upon reaching the Lower Gate, I entered the village and proceeded to wander the streets that eventually led into the heart of Pérouges– the place du Tilleul. With bright-red flowers against the backdrop of austere stone buildings, it gave off a very contrasted, but vibrant charm to the plaza: there was also a 200-year-old tree in the center, still majestic in all its noble beauty. By then, the sun started to come out, thereby warming up town not only in temperature, but also atmosphere.
I continued strolling the cobblestone streets, eventually coming across a small bakery which specialized in the galette pérougienne, a traditional sweet pastry local to the village. It smelled fantastic while walking past the shop, and it was only a matter of lightly knocking on the window to alert the cashier (who’s also the baker) to order. I got one slice and, while it appears to look like a cheese pizza, it’s far from being the same (let alone in taste)– in fact, I liken it to a sweet tart, full of butter and sugar that’s simple, but effectively tasty. I enjoyed my slice very much, as it was not only delicious, but it also staved off the hunger I was experiencing before lunchtime. Wished that I’d bought more when I could have!
After about an hour of wandering Pérouges, I decided to head down to the neighboring town for some more sightseeing– notably, there was a chateau perched on a hill and, while it wasn’t open the day I went, nevertheless it offered a nice view of Pérouges from afar.
I headed back to Pérouges afterwards for some last-minute photos before I returned to the neighboring small town for some lunch options. Considering that I’d visited on Monday, many bakeries were closed, including those in Pérouges itself. Luckily, I was able to find one open in the other town, buying myself a simple sandwich and pastry to eat on-the-go. Afterwards, I caught the midday bus back to Lyon, arriving back in the early afternoon.
Pérouges turned out to be a pleasant day trip from Lyon– while I would say that it isn’t worth any more than half a day’s worth of visit, nevertheless it merits a stroll through for that medieval feel that you may or may not be passionate about.
Stay tuned for my final post on my vacation in Lyon soon! Until then. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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