Les étangs de la DombesLa Dombes Vue Du Ciel
©La Dombes Vue Du Ciel|Dombes Tourisme

The Dombes

Land of ponds

A land of a thousand ponds, the Dombes reveals a changing and unexpected landscape to visitors. It is the leading freshwater fish-producing region, a land of ancestral traditions (pond fishing, horse breeding…) and a haven for birds, teeming with exceptional flora and fauna in an unspoilt natural setting.

The Dombes and its ponds invite you to try the “Nature Experience “.

The Dombes of a thousand ponds

From the blue of its ponds to the red of its carrons (typical bricks), the Dombes is a festival of colors, scents and sounds. Amid this natural landscape of water, listen carefully for the song of wild birds and the croaking of frogs. Watch the ballet of the waterfowl as they glide across the calm waters of the ponds, and perhaps even spot the star resident, the grey heron.

The origin of the ponds

In the Middle Ages, the Dombes landscape was made up of vast marshlands with the distinctive feature of very clayey soil. In those days, the inhabitants had very few resources to feed themselves, no land to cultivate and no meadows for animals.
As early as the 11th century, monks began to develop the Dombes region, creating the first fishponds. As demand for freshwater fish grew, the number of fishponds multiplied.

Water, a precious resource

The ponds are fed solely by runoff, rainwater, and by other surrounding ponds. In fact, water from the upper ponds fills the lower ponds via a network of ditches.
Thanks to a traditional and very well-controlled process, the precious water resource, is perfectly utilized. Today 1,200 ponds are maintained and operated with respect for centuries-old traditions.

An economy based on pond resources

The emblem of the Dombes region is the Dombes fish, in fact this is the leading freshwater fish-producing region in France, with an annual production of 1,200 tons.

The Association de Promotion du Poisson des Étangs de la Dombes (APPED), with the aim of promoting this product and the fish farming industry, has created thePoissons de Dombes brand.

Carp is the star of the Dombes, accounting for 70% of pond production. Present since the Middle Ages, it is a hardy fish and ensures the balance of the pond. There are 1,001 ways to cook Dombes carp, a treat for your taste buds that’s even served for Christmas dinner in Germany!

Pike, zander, tench and other fish produced in the ponds also feature among the delicious dishes served in the local restaurants: …

The Dombes, a preserved natural area

The Dombes and its ponds are a paradise for wild birds.

The Dombes offers a veritable haven of peace for our feathered friends, be they sedentary or migratory. 130 species of birds have found in the Dombes, a blessed land offering food, shelter and a place to breed.

From dawn to dusk, the ponds are the scene of unique spectacles. Warblers, teal and pochard sing in unisson while ducks, nuthatches, redheads and scaup perform their gentle ballets on the water.

Every pond is worth a visit to discover this little people of the air and water.

Six ponds have been awarded the Espace Naturel Sensible label, and some are open to the public and feature observatories.


the ponds

Where to see the birds

of the Dombes ?

A Nature Experience

by the ponds
Discover the essentials

of the Dombes