Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mommy in Montpellier: Day Trip to Pérouges

Mardi, 19 novembre.

In addition to our day trip to Annecy, we also left Lyon on Sunday afternoon to explore another nearby attraction -- the medieval walled town of Pérouges. I had stumbled across the quaint little village while scouring travel blogs in search of potential day trips from Lyon. It seemed cute enough. And then I found out it was a PBVF.

And as you might have noticed, I have a slight obsession with what are called "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France." (Note: the name PBVF is almost certainly used only by me). These villages, formally recognized as among France's most beautiful and charming, tend to be small, well-preserved towns that -- for me, at least -- fulfill every expectation that you could possibly have of an ideal picturesque French village.

Before coming to Pérouges, I had visited three of these PBVFs: the village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert (which you can read about here) and the towns of Gordes and Beaux-de-Provence (both of which you can read about in this post). I'd had just the best time each and every one of these little towns and loved the idea of exploring yet another with my mom! Besides, neither of us are big "city folks" -- although exploring Lyon was fun, the idea of exploring the Lac d'Annecy or a little village in the countryside was MUCH more appealing.

So after a little bit of Sunday morning exploration in Lyon, we took a regional train to the town of Meximieux. I have yet to find an explanation for the name of this town, which seems to me to combine Mexique and mieux ("better") and have decided it must be inhabited solely by extremely proud Mexican expats. Meximieux was cute, but became decidedly less so as we trudged around it in the rain. After a failed attempt to take what the Pérouges tourism office had deemed a "scenic route" (and what was actually just a really muddy field), we finally got ourselves on track.

It was a relief to finally see signs pointing us in the right direction!

A few more minutes of walking and we were there -- bienvenue à Pérouges! Like I explained before, the town is officially one of France's most beautiful villages. Although the region was first inhabited WAY long ago (we're talking two thousand years before Jesus), the oldest parts of the current village date back to the 12th century. The town was most active between the 15th and 18th centuries, at which time it had up to 1500 inhabitants -- more than it has now! In the 1900s, some of the town's families decided to restore it to its original medieval appearance. If you're interested, you can read more about the town here. For those of you thinking "absolutely no way am I reading more about this place" ... here's a video instead! It's not long and gives a pretty good insight into what it feels like to walk through the village (albeit it on a sunny day in summer, which we most certainly did not experience). Even cooler? This very nifty aeriel tour of the town.

Here we are just inside the city's lower gate, happy to finally have reached our destination! Even though it was still preeeetty damp. (Notice the umbrellas. Also the water coursing down the street.)


Mommy got a kick out of the funniest things ... here she is taking a picture of a car coming down the street. She just thought it was the coolest thing!

For the first half of our Perouges visit, the rain was coming down pretty hard. I love these pictures because, even though they're a little on the blurry side, you can actually see the water pouring off the rooftops and running down the street.


One of my favorite shots ... the countryside beyond the village.
We stopped for a minute in the church, l'Eglise Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Pérouges. Like the rest of the town, it dates back to the fifteenth century. It was relatively bare and wasn't particularly exciting, as medieval churches go. But I did like the fancy cross!

We were getting pretty sick and tired of the rain, so we decided to take shelter in a little restaurant on the outskirts of the town called Veneur Noir. They had a yummy-looking pizza menu (yes, pizza again) that seemed a lot more affordable than the food being served in the traditional restaurants within the city walls. (Think of the taverns in Colonial Williamsburg ... hearty and authentic but oh so expensive!) It wasn't anything special, but we ate our fill of pizza and couldn't complain.

Full -- and, even better, dry -- we emerged to find that the seemingly ceaseless rain had, in fact, finally ceased. The sun was out and the sky was blue and everything just seemed so much more cheerful!


We loved the flowers in the window boxes -- so cool to still see such colorful blooms, even in November. And it seemed like each building was covered in more and more ivy. Mommy couldn't get over all the beautiful fall colors!

Unfortunately, we didn't have long to wander before heading back into Meximieux to catch the local train back to Lyon. We did, however, make one last quick stop...

La galette de Pérouges is a traditional specialty of the region and is produced exclusively (or so I like to imagine) in the walled medieval city. It looks like a dessert pizza that you might find at an all-you-can-eat buffet in the States, but it's basically just pie crust and sugar. And yet, strangely delicious. You can read more about the dessert here on the town's official tourism website. (Apparently it can be served warm with vanilla ice cream? I know what I'll be making over Christmas break!)

"How much is that galette in the window?"

Galette in hard, it was time to leave Pérouges ... but not before one or two final pictures! We left through the Porte d'en-Bas and headed down the hill, retracing our steps. Amazing how much prettier it was without the rain and wind!


On our walk back, we quickly re-discovered some of the conveniences of not living in a preserved medieval village. Pérouges might have a famous ancient pie recipe, but DOES IT HAVE A TWENTY-FOUR HOUR PIZZA DISPENSER? I thought not.

Mommy loved the picturesque little train station and the cute double-decker train!

Me? I loved eating the galette.


  1. You know who to pick just the right pictures for this blog! Great memories, wet or dry!

  2. This is a storybook village; thanks for sharing. I loved the train itself.

  3. Last night, my umbrella bit the dust! Perouge put it through too much! haha!