Ambérieux-en-Dombes castleAmbérieux-en-Dombes castle
©Ambérieux-en-Dombes castle|Pascal Brunon

Château d’Ambérieux-en-Dombes

Erected in the 14th century, Ambérieux’s fortified castle features four towers that still mark out its defensive perimeter, enclosing the church rebuilt in the 19th century. Its monumental 19-metre-high keep offers a remarkable panorama of the Dombes and Beaujolais regions (and even Mont-Blanc on a clear day).

A Dombist fortified castle

It was built entirely of brick, a material typical of Dombes fortifications and noble houses, such as the fortified house of Villon, the castles of Sandrans or Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne, as well as the upper part of the medieval walls of Trévoux. As such, it is an emblematic monument of Dombist architecture.

The keep underwent an exceptional restoration in 2010: its terrace regained its frame and elegant glazed tile roof. The restoration also saw the rebuilding of the hourds at the keep’s four corners. These are wooden devices attached to the wall overhang at the very top of the keep. They were used to release projectiles or fire to defend the foot of the keep.


The Château d’Ambérieux is indeed a fortified castle. It was equipped with a complete and coherent defensive system, as evidenced by the dungeon entrance placed at first-floor level, the latrines judiciously placed above a blind corner (from which stones could also be dropped or shots fired through the latrine hole) or the numerous firing openings arranged to effectively defend the approaches to the towers and walls.

The castle successfully defended itself against an assault by troops from the Savoyard garrisons of Pérouges, Montluel and Miribel in May 1460. A century later, a document dated 1561 mentions a heavily fortified castle with a double moat and access protected by a drawbridge. It also tells us that some twenty firearms and a few bladed weapons were stored there.

Comfort was not neglected for all that, as the remains of fireplaces are well present, attesting to habitability in line with the standards of the time.

The château-fort also symbolizes, with its imposing keep, the seigneurial power and its authority over the surrounding region.