A Moment in Nature

on the Sainte-Olive Walk
Balade aux bords des étangs de la DomesEtangs de la Dombes
©Circuit de balade à Sainte Olive|Michael Zeilfelder

Today, our journey takes us to the village of Sainte-Olive, in the heart of the Dombes, for the Chardonnet Pond walk.

Our goal: to hike, see ponds, and observe birds.

Michael raconte

Randonnée en Dombes

No need for a big elevation gain to enjoy a walk; here in the Dombes, you can make great discoveries in an essentially flat region. Equipped with hiking shoes, poles, and binoculars, we begin our walk.

We quickly leave the village, and in just 500 meters, we are already in nature.

On our left, a first small pond; on our right, a small grove providing shade. It’s May, nature has just awakened: we hear birds singing and bees buzzing everywhere, and the chicks have just hatched. Our walk will be accompanied by the cuckoo’s call.

Observer les oiseaux en Dombes

We arrive at a large pond where we settle on the grass to watch the birds.

No need for professional equipment; the birds are very close. In the reeds, a heron watches for its prey, a little further, a pair of red-crested pochards swims, and in the middle of the pond, we see great crested grebes diving. We stay a while watching them, then decide to continue; after all, we are just at the beginning of our walk. We leave the small paved road to follow a dirt path. It leads us through fields, with green and tender wheat. The view of a pond gives us a beautiful bucolic panorama.

Continuing our way on alternating dirt and paved paths, we come across a beautiful typical farm.

It is made of rammed earth, a yellow soil, with brick corners called “Savoyard corners.”

It is located next to another pond, the largest we will see on our route, Chardonnet Pond.

We lean our poles against the fishery, a typical fish farming structure of the Dombes, and admire the view before us: a blue expanse dotted with small white flowers, then a belt of rushes and reeds, gnarled oaks, and overlooking everything in the distance, the Beaujolais mountains.

All accompanied by the cuckoo’s song and the croaking of frogs.

We continue towards Micholière, another Dombes farm, the path lined with hedges where we see and hear blackbirds, warblers, and tits hopping and chirping. The flowery smell of elder immerses us in this spring atmosphere. After alternating wheat and rapeseed fields, we leave the road again to enter a small wood, the Bois de la Dame. Who is this lady? La Grande Mademoiselle, governor of the principality of the Dombes? The wife of a landowner? A love story now forgotten?

We will not find out. The path through the woods offers welcome coolness as the sun reaches its zenith. The trees shield us from the outside world and provide a gentle silence.

Exiting the wood, we expect to see another pond, but where our map indicates its location, we see only a field. This is the charm of the Dombes: the fish farming alternates between moments when the pond is filled with water and moments when it is dry. From year to year, the scenery of this walk will be different. A melodious song reminiscent of parrots makes us look up. We only see it fleetingly, but its bright yellow color leaves no doubt; it is the European golden oriole. After this rare encounter, we reach the end of our loop.

It is already noon, and we haven’t eaten on the way. We decide to stay a bit longer in the village, where we spotted a restaurant near the start of our hike, Le Saint’Oliv. Today’s menu: Dombes free-range chicken.

Why Should You Come?

An Accessible Walk6.4 km

Chardonnet Pond Circuit

Discovering the Ponds
Bird Watching
We Tell You Everything !

How to Experience This ?

Dombes Tourisme

Place du Champ de Foire 01400 Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne

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