Stage town for the first time

Municipality in Ain

Population: 1,250 (Villibadois, Villibadoises)

Specialities: villibadoise tart, sugar tart, salted walnut tart, Bugey wines. Marc du Bugey. Bugey cheeses

Personalities: Saint Vulbas (former governor of Burgundy, 7th century).

Sport: Polo Club de la plaine de l'Ain. The town is also renowned for bowls (boule lyonnaise), for which the club is home to many champions. It is also home to the headquarters of the Fédération Internationale de Boules (FIB), an association set up in 1946 to govern boules at international level. Events: Tour de l'Ain, Critérium du Dauphiné, Tour de l'Avenir, Tour de France 2024. French Polo Championships. Sport-boules World Cup.

Economy: Plaine de l'Ain industrial park. Bugey nuclear power plant (1,400 jobs).

Festivals: Printemps de Pérouges (music), Skylak Open Air (rock and metal festival).

Labels: Town in bloom 4 flowers

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Saint-Vulbas may be making its first appearance on the Tour de France route, but this small town in the Ain region is already a major cycling venue, having hosted the Critérium du Dauphiné twice, the Tour de l'Avenir three times and above all the Tour de l'Ain, for which it is regularly one of the first stage towns. Finishes in town have regularly favoured sprinters, and in particular Nacer Bouhanni, who raised his arms there on three occasions, twice in the Tour de l'Ain, in 2015 and 2017, and once in the Dauphiné, in 2016. Other speed specialists to have triumphed here include Jimmy Casper, Gianni Meersman, Matteo Trentin and Caleb Ewan, who made his name in the Tour de l'Avenir in 2013, aged just 19. In 2019, a stage of the Dauphiné also linked the Maurienne valley to Saint-Vulbas, but in the opposite direction, with Julian Alaphilippe winning in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne. The town, home of the "boule lyonnaise", hosts the Gentleman of Champions race every year, sponsored by former Tour riders such as Marseille’s Georges Chappe and local rider Francis Rigon, who lives nearby. Another local boy, Jean Dumont, born in Ambérieu-en-Bugey, 18km away, took part in the Tour de France five times, winning a stage in 1968.  


  • Printemps de Pérouges

Created in 1997 to host classical music concerts in the medieval town of Pérouges, 17km from Saint-Vulbas, Printemps de Pérouges has become one of the major festivals in the Ain and Lyon regions, welcoming some of the world's biggest stars including Sting, Scorpions, Johnny Hallyday, Santana, Nekfeu and Soprano. The 2024 edition, from 25 to 30 June, welcomed Mika, Zucchero, Véronique Sanson and Gilbert Montagné. Founded by three sisters, Marie, Anne-Lise and Elsa Rigaud, the festival was held for a long time at the Plaine de l'Ain Polo Club in Saint-Vulbas, before moving in 2023 to the Château de Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, childhood home of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.   

  • Plaine de l'Ain Polo Club

As a partner of the Plaine de l'Ain Industrial Park, the Lyon-Plaine de l'Ain Polo Club welcomes a wide audience to discover a unique sport in an unexpected environment. The Polo Club is housed in the fully restored former stables of the Domaine des Bergeries. Covering an area of seventy hectares, the club has an indoor riding arena, a training track, thirty hectares of paddocks, an official field for matches, a training ground and a clubhouse. Since it was founded, the club has hosted a number of major events, including the French Polo Championships.  

  • Tomb of Saint Vulbas

The church of Saint-Vulbas was first mentioned in the 9th century. The current building dates from the 19th century and houses the marble tomb of the saint who gave his name to the town. Willebaud (Vulbas) served in King Dagobert's army in the 7th century. After becoming governor of Burgundy, he was murdered by his rival Flocat near Autun. His body was laid to rest in the chapel of Marcilleux and then transferred to the church of Saint Vulbas. Destroyed during the French Revolution, the tomb was rebuilt identically from the remains that had been saved. Saint Vulbas is celebrated on May 10. His tomb has been listed as a Historical Monument since 1920.  

  • Marcilleux chapel

Construction: 11th century.

Style: Romanesque.

History and features: the Marcilleux chapel, built of stone, dates back to the 11th century, but archaeologists have found evidence of an earlier building dating back to the 10th century. It is located on the banks of the Rhône, in the middle of cultivated land and at the foot of the nuclear power station's cooling towers. It consists of a nave with a roof frame, a crossing without a transept, and an apse in the shape of a cul-de-sac. It was restored in 1946-47. The sarcophagus of Saint Vulbas was in the chapel before being transferred to the church.

Listed as: historical monument since 1944.


  • Baked and salted walnut tarts

A must at traditional oven festivals, the various wood-fired tarts can be discovered every year from April to October in the villages of Bugey. These village festivals are an opportunity to rekindle the old communal oven over a weekend of festivities. The origins of the Bugey oven festivals go back to the Middle Ages. Villagers had to pay a tax, known as banalité, to the lord who had built the oven, in exchange for its use. Salé aux noix du Bugey is a savoury bread pastry, flattened to be filled with crushed walnuts and onion rings, and drizzled with walnut oil. This delicious, unexpectedly textured tart, served hot or warm, can be enjoyed as a starter or main course, accompanied by a green salad.

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