The southern part of the Beaujolais area close to Lyon is a lively land characterised by its villages built from yellow ochre stones that reflect the sunlight. This stone offers a vast range of warm, sun-kissed tones, providing this part of the Beaujolais area, known as "the little Tuscany", with its originality and charm. This stone is omnipresent, and has been used to build houses, castles, churches, washhouses, wells and low walls, all of which abound this hilly landscape. Some forty-odd villages surrounded by vines, and at times perched high on the hills, invite you to explore, while the area's winegrowers will offer you a warm welcome.
In October 2010, the Beaujolais Pierres Dorées area and its villages were awarded the Vignobles et Découvertes (“Vineyards and Discoveries”) quality label granted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Tourism.
Once you reach exit 33, take the Beaujolais wine route, with its hilly landscapes. Stop off in Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, a village perched atop an outcrop, to admire its carefully restored Romanesque chapel. Next on the list is a visit to the Espace Pierres Folles, with its museum, geological trail and botanical garden. You'll learn all there is to know about the local geology, and find out why the region's stone has such a lovely golden colour.
Get back onto the wine route and head for Charnay, with it incredibly rich heritage, which includes the 17th century Château de la Mansarde, its church, the Château de Bayère, the 12th century fortified house, the washhouse, its typical 19th century drawbridge, and last but not least, its magnificent views. This will lead you to the village of Alix, divided in two by a stream. Here you can visit its ancient washhouse (a veritable local treasure), the 17th century church with its baroque façade, the 8th century priory, and the feudal Château de Marzé.
Time for lunch! Head for the former 15th century watermill, which has retained every bit of its former charm, to enjoy some local specialities.
Then you're off again, to see the fortified medieval village of Oingt perched high on a hill. It has been listed among the “Loveliest villages in France” (Plus Beaux Villages de France) and dominates Azergues Valley. Take in its narrow cobbled streets, its monuments made of golden stone, and check out its numerous artisans and designers. Don't miss Oingt's Tower, its entrance gate (Porte de Thizy), Saint-Mathieu's Church and its Centre of Mechanical Music.
Don't hesitate to enjoy a well-earned break in a wine-tasting cellar: this will enable you to purchase wines, regional Beaujolais products and souvenirs to take back home with you. Next, head for Le Bois-d'Oingt, or the “Village of Roses” as it is also known, in memory of Louis Pradel, creator of the rose garden in Lyon's Tête d’Or Park. Finally, follow the peaceful road bordering the vineyards all the way back to Lyon.
6 pm: Back to Lyon
NOT TO BE MISSED!
- In July: Rosé Nuits d'été is a key event that promotes Beaujolais Rosé wine over 15 days of festivities (concerts, entertaining gastronomic and œnological events, live shows, etc.).
- In July and August, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 11 am to 5 pm: with Les Visites Privilège you get to meet winegrowers from the Beaujolais Pierres Dorées area, discover the secrets of their winegrowing estates and share a wonderful moment together thanks to a guided tasting session of 3 wines. Book via the Beaujolais-Pierres-Dorées Tourist Office or the Villefranche-Beaujolais-Saône Tourist Office (€8/person - Groups, 10 people maximum)
- In October: Le Fascinant Week-End is your opportunity to visit, discover, smell, taste and be fascinated by the various wine tourism trails throughout the region.
GETTING HERE BY CAR
Take the A6 motorway, exits 31.1, 31.2 and 33 Take the A89 motorway, exit towards Tarare-les Olmes