La Dombe, Lyon
Take the Dombes Lakes Route Tour (by car). Dombes is about 45 minutes drive north of Lyon. The area has thousands of little ponds used for crop, cattle and fish farming.
The local government developed two Dombes Lakes Loop Tours. One is 65-km long and goes from Villars-les-Dombes through Chalamont to Saint-Marcel; the other, 70-km, from Vilars-les-Dombest through Saint-Paul-de-Varax and Bouligneux. The drive is very easy simply follow the ‘Dombes Tour’ along the country roads. Along the tour, you would see feudal castle, villages, old church, ‘le Thou’ (see below), grazing cattle. The texture of the country houses is very intteresting. The courtyard in the villages are full of flowers (just like anywhere in France).
The creation of ponds of Dombes goes back to the 12th century. These ponds cover an area of 10,000 hectares. They are filled with water to raise fish or let dry to grow crops, in turns (the fish manure is the natural fertilizer for the crops). The majority of the ponds are filled by rainwater and small streams. The water in one pond is emptied into its adjacent pond before the fishing season, using a kind of ‘valve’ called ‘Le Thou’.