Panorama sur la ville de BelleyPanorama sur la ville de Belley
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Belley, capital of Bugey

The cultural and architectural wealth of Belley, the capital of Bugey and birthplace of Jean-Antelme Brillat-Savarin, will surprise you! Discover its cathedral, its palace and walk through the streets and alleys on the traces of the past a few steps away from the ViaRhôna cycling path.

Visit Belley

Guided tours of Belley (in French) are organized by the Tourist Office, on fixed dates in the summer for individuals and all year round on request for groups of 10 or more.
Reservations and information: online, by email at or by phone at 04 79 81 29 06.

A historical tour has been set up by the Société Savante du Bugey and the City of Belley, including 42 explanatory plaques on various buildings.
The downtown tour only takes 1.5 to 2 hours to discover and leaves from the Tourist Office, at n°34 de la Grande Rue.

Brief history of Belley

An important town in the Gallo-Roman period

Belley benefited from a crossroads position on the road linking Lyon to Geneva.

Excavations carried out in 2008 have brought to light a vast thermal complex built in the 2nd century and in activity until the 4th century.
This Roman origin can be found in the emblem of the city, the she-wolf. The etymology of Belley thus refers to Bellone, the Roman goddess of war, represented by this animal.

A representation of this she-wolf is exposed in the Grande Rue, a replica of the original sculpted by the artist Colette Sonzogni.

The influence of

Holy Roman Empire and the House of Savoy in the Middle Ages

During the first centuries of the Middle Ages, Bugey passed from kingdom to kingdom according to conquests or divisions.

In 1077, Bugey was ceded by the Holy Roman Germanic Empire to the House of Savoy.
The bishops also played a leading political role in the city as they were its lords since Anthelme de Chignin, bishop of Belley between 1163 and 1178, lord and patron saint of the city.

The ramparts were built in the 14th century, after the fire of 1385 that almost ravaged the entire city.
Nothing remains of these walls today, except for a section on Boulevard du Mail (towards the pharmacy parking lot).

1601 : the Treaty of Lyon

The Bugey is annexed a first time to France between 1536 and 1559.

It is Henri IV, by the treaty of Lyon signed on January 17, 1601, who integrates it definitively to the Kingdom of France.
The city depends from then on the province of Burgundy.
Belley becomes then, after Rossillon, the seat of the royal bailiwick.
To admire: the inner courtyard of the Tourist Office, former seat of the bailiwick, with its tower and arcaded galleries.

In the 17th century, several convents settled in Belley and in the following century, the city acquired a new episcopal palace as well as a college and a Hôtel Dieu.

Belley since the Revolution

After the upheavals of the Revolution, Belley became a sub-prefecture under the Empire.
It was in 1823 that the town regained its episcopal seat.

A religious, bourgeois, commercial town, Belley was also a garrison town.
In 1874, the 133rd Infantry Regiment settled there. It will leave a lasting mark on the life of Belley.
A memorial trail of the poilu of the 133rd RI is to be discovered in the forest of Rothonne.
In 1948, the 1st colonial artillery regiment gave way to a mobile gendarmerie squadron.

Belley has had an important industrial basin since the second half of the 20th century. Companies have historically been located there, such as Volvo, Hermès, Comatel, Ugivis, Delachaux, etc.

Some monuments

of the city
Frequently asked questions
  • Where to taste local specialities in Belley ?

    The Brasserie des Terreaux, a master restaurateur, offers many dishes made with local products, such as diots au Marc du Bugey, as well as a wide range of Bugey wines.
    All local producers are identified on the restaurant menu.
    Happy eating!

  • What is the emblem of Belley?

    The she-wolf, emblem of Bellona, Roman goddess of war, who is said to have given her name to the town of Belley.
    A ravishing she-wolf, erect on her hind legs, ready to ravish her prey.
    The coat of arms of Belley is blazoned “argent à la louve ravissante de vert”. The shield is stamped with a mural crown with three towers and surrounded by oak branches linked in saltire at the point of the shield.
    This emblem can be seen in particular on the facade of the Hôtel de Ville.

  • Who is the most famous French gastronome?

    Jean-Antelme Brillat-Savarin was born in Belley on April 2, 1755, in the family home now located at No. 62 Grande Rue.
    Politician, magistrate, he is best known for his work on gastronomy, “Physiology of Taste” (1826), a veritable treatise on culinary science, and for his famous aphorisms, of which here are a few tasty examples:

    • A dessert without cheese is a beauty missing an eye
    • Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are
    • Greed is the enemy of excess
    • Those who are indigent or intoxicated, know neither how to drink nor eat
    • What is health? It’s chocolate
    • The table is the only place where you’re never bored for the first hour
    • To invite someone over is to take charge of their happiness for the entire time they’re under your roof

Your hiking and cycling loops in the area