The Dombes (French pronunciation: [dɔ̃b] (listen); Arpitan: Domba) is an area in eastern France, once an independent municipality, formerly part of the province of Burgundy, and now a district comprised in the department of Ain, and bounded on the west by the Saône River, on the south by the Rhône, on the east by the Ain and on the north by the district of Bresse.

The region forms an undulating plateau with a slight slope towards the north-west, the higher ground bordering the Ain and the Rhône attaining an average height of about 1,000 ft (300 m). The Dombes is characterized by an impervious surface consisting of boulder clay and other relics of glacial action. Because of this, there are a large number of rain-water pools, varying for the most part from 35 to 250 acres (1.0 km2) in size which cover some 23,000 acres (93 km²) of its total area of 282,000 acres (1,140 km²). These pools, artificially created, date in many cases from the 15th century, some to earlier periods, and were formed by landed proprietors who in those disturbed times saw a surer source of revenue in fish-breeding than in agriculture. Disease and depopulation resulted from this policy and at the end of the 18th century the Legislative Assembly decided to reduce the area of the pools which then covered twice their present extent. Drainage works were continued, roads cut, and other improvements effected during the 19th century; partly as a result of Napoleon III's installation of Trappist monks in the district to set about the task. Large numbers of fish, principally carp, pike, and tench are still reared profitably. The pools are periodically dried up so the ground can be cultivated.


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