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Where is Pérouges?

perouges map

Pérouges is a medieval walled town, on a small hill about 30km northeast of Lyon. it is regarded as one of the best examples of a little town from the Middle Ages in France.

Town of Perouges
The little town of Pérouge

Seen from the ground level at the bottom of the hill, Pérouges may look a little disappointing. map of town
It is a pedestrian area, so cars have to be parked at the foot of the hill.  The town is laid out with its streets in a concentric circle within its walled area.

walls

Initially it was a town of craftsmen, farmers and linen weavers.  It was founded by immigrant weavers who came from Perguia in Italy, which is how the town got its name.    

HouseOld houses

Originally the hill was part of the early warning system for Lyon (Lugdunum, at that time the capital city of Roman Gaul), as the Romans built a beacon here.  The hill has good views across the surrounding areas, and the beacon would be lit in case of imminent attack,  to warn the capital.

Painter's house
House of the painters.

Like many of the little towns in the area, Pérouges became a plaything among rival overlords; and was transferred from one to another.  During the 12th century, the little town was enclosed by its wall to defend it against the troops of the Archbishop of Lyon.  In the 13th century it became the stronghold of the Duchy of Savoy for protecting its frontier.  By the 1600s it had been transferred to Bresse and many of its fortifications were dismantled.

Ostellerie
The Ostellerie (or Hostelry)

The little town of about 1500 inhabitants began to prosper under more peaceful conditions. Weaving became its principal industry.  It benefited from its location on the trade route between Lyon and Geneva and the craftsmen were able to benefit from merchants passing through.  

street

Whilst the textile industry was in a boom during the 18th century, the 19th century industrial revolution brought financial hardship.  New roads and the railway were built away from the little town and its trade and work opportunities diminished.  People moved to the cities to find work  and the town suffered dreadfully from depopulation, with only 90 residents left.  By the start of the 20th century, there was only one family of twelve in the town! 

However, in 1911, its unique heritage value was recognised and a “Rescue” committee was formed.  The town began to be restored and many of the old houses were saved.   Many of the old houses have walls one metre thick.

Today expect to see the little town in a movie or when you watch TV!

 

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