Rhône-Alpes

General Info

Regional Map
Conseil Régional
Tourism: Comité Régional du Tourisme
Capital: Lyon
Departments: Ain, Ardèche, Drôme, Haute-Savoie, Isère, Loire, Rhône, Savoie,
Arrondissements-25, Cantons-335, Communes-2,875
Population: 6,138,413 (2008 est.)
France Rhône-Alpes Region Map

Overview

Rhône-Alpes Annecy Palais de l'Isle
Rhône-Alpes was named after the Rhône river and the Alps mountain range, and lies along the eastern border of France bordering Switzerland and Italy. The regional capital, Lyon, was recognized be the Romans 2,000 years ago and is the second-largest metropolitan area in France and considered to be the gastronomic capital of the country with its high density of restaurants and fine cuisine. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône and has great museums and beautiful Renaissance buildings.

Just northwest of Lyon are the vineyards of the Beaujolais wine region, producing wines celebrated for their fruitiness and drinkablity, and with the Côtes du Rhône nearby, the region is an important wine producer. The French Alps have popular year-round ski resort areas and Mount Blanc which is Europe's highest mountain peak is awe-inspiring. The beautiful Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) is home to elegant spa towns along its shores. Grenoble is a bustling university town and is framed by spectacular nature reserves. To the south are the deep gorges of the rugged Ardèche.

Rhône-Alpes Departmental Information,

Notable Towns and Sights in the Rhône-Alpes Region

Aix-les-Bains (Savoie) is a spa town near the beautiful Lac du Bourget in the foothills (Bugey) of the Alps near Chambéry. The hot sulfur springs here have a temperature of from 109° to 113°F (43-45 °C) and attract many thousands of visitors annually. They are used for drinking as well as for hydrotherapy. These Thermes Nationaux were enjoyed by the Romans 200 years ago and remain the center of the town. Nearby is the 2nd-century Temple of Diana that contains a collection of Gallo-Roman artifacts. Also close is the Musée Faure which has a collection of Impressionist paintings by Degas and Sisley as well as sculptures by Rodin. France Rhône-Alpes Aix-les-Bains and Lac du Bourget
Annecy (Haute-Savoie) is certainly one of the most beautiful towns in France with its lake surrounded by the snow-capped Alps. It is worth a visit to the medieval quarter centered around the striking Palais de l'Isle (photo), a 12th-century prison. Other sights include: The Château d'Annecy which was the home of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours (12th-16th centuries). The 16th-century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre which was the cathedral of François de Sales and is home to a number of artworks and baroque pieces from the 19th century. Musée de l'Histoire d'Annecy. The church of Saint-Maurice is in the Flamboyant Gothic style of the 15th-century and houses some very interesting paintings from the 15th-16th centuries. The Pont des Amours (photo), a beautiful example of the iron architecture typical of the 20th century. The Impérial Palace, inaugurated in 1913, with its public gardens, beach and casino. Basilique de la Visitation, built in the 20th century, home of the tomb of François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal, offers a magnificent view of the town. France Rhône-Alpes Annecy Palais de l'Isle

France Rhône-Alpes Annecy Palais de l'Isle
Ardèche River and Gorges (Ardèche) are 20 miles (12km) long along a road with stopping points for views that follow the often fast-flowing and serpentine river. The most spectacular sight is the Pont d'Arc (photo), a naturally-formed limestone arch spanning the river. Canoeing and rafting abound and there are numerous locations to rent equipment upstream including at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc. There are also grottes (caves) below including the impressive Aven d'Orgnac (south of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc) and the Grotte de la Madeleine. France Rhône-Alpes Ardéche Pont d'arc
Balazuc (Ardèche) is a 12th-century village just south of Aubenas which clings effortlessly to the cliffs above a secluded gorge of the Ardèche river. There are exceptional views along the D294 road approaching and departing the town. The castle and fortified church are notable highlights within the village. Evidence of an early hunter dating from 50,000 years ago have been found here in the Barasses cave across the river. Balazuc is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. (photo) France Rhône-Alpes Balazuc
Belley Bas-Bugey (Ain) was the religious capital of the Bugey area and was one of the most significant towns in the region during the Gallo-Roman period, being a crossroads linking Lyon to Geneva. Sights include the neo-Gothic Saint John the Baptist Cathedral (photo), the Bishop's Palace (photo), and the Place des Terreaux with a fountain from 1864.  Belley France Rhône-Alpes Belley Episcopal Bishops Palace
Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain) is a busy market town with its share of half-timbered houses. The most significant of the older buildings is the 16th-century Gothic church of Notre-Dame, which has a Renaissance façade. The Hôtel de Ville contains a library and the Lorin museum with a collection of pictures, while another museum has a collection of the old costumes and ornaments characteristic of Bresse. The abbey church of Brou (interior photo), in a southeastern suburb of Bourg-en-Bresse, was built in the Flamboyant Gothic style in the 16th century. The exterior fašade is richly ornamented, but most notable are the works of art in the interior, which date from 1532. The rood loft, the oak stalls, and the reredos in the chapel of the Virgin are considered masterpieces. (photo) France Rhône-Alpes Brou Cathedral
Chambéry (Savoie) had been the historical capital of Savoie since the 13th-century and is now a bustling city with an Italian flavor about it. Landmarks here include the 1838 Fontaine des Eléphants photo , built to honour Benoît de Boigne, and the 14th-century Château de Chambéry which was a residence for the first Counts of Savoie. The city is a crossroads of ancient routes through the Dauphiné (a former province), Bourgogne, Switzerland, and Italy. France Rhône-Alpes Chambéry
Chamonix (Haute Savoie) lies at the base of Mont Blanc, is surrounded by the most beautiful scenery in the French Alps, and is a leading mountaineering centre. (photo) It has been a summer and winter resort since the 1700's and is famous for world-class skiing and snowboarding. There is a cable-car ride up to the Aiguille du Midi summit built in 1955 and another one from there that allows visitors to travel into the Aosta Valley of Italy. The Vallée Blanche glacier runs down from below Mont Blanc-du-Tacul and the Aiguille du Midi to the Chamonix Valley. Tourism France Rhône-Alpes Chamonix Valley
Chartreuse Mountains (Isère & Savoie) are north of Grenoble The main sight here is the Monastère de la Grande Chartreuse (photo) just west of the town, Saint Pierre-de-Charteuse. It was founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno and is occupied by about forty monks. The well-known yellow-green liqueur chartreuse, made with 130 ingredients, was originally produced here in 1600 and is now made in nearby Voiron. The monastery is closed to the public, but there is a museum at the entrance that shows the life of the Carthusian monks. France Rhône-Alpes Chartreuse Mountains

Dombes (Ain) is an undulating and marshy plateau bordering the Ain and Rhône rivers south of Bourg-en-Bresse with an average height of 1000 feet (305 m) and more than 100 lakes. The area is popular for bird-watchers and fisherman. The Parc des Oiseaux (birds) in Villars-les-Dombes has over 400 species of exotic and native birds. France Rhône-Alpes Dombes Parc des Oiseaux
Évians-les-Bains (Haute Savoie) is on Lac Léman and is famous for its spring water which takes 15 years to trickle down from the Chablais Mountains. The town, known as the "Pearl of Lake Geneva", offers a beautiful tree-lined lakefront promenade and there are ferries available to cross the Lake to Lausanne, Switzerland. There are modern spa treatments available as well as an exotic domed casino at night. France Rhône-Alpes Évians-les-Bains
Gex (Ain) is three miles from the Swiss border and lies below the Col de la Faucille. It is a popular medium-altitude resort conveniently close to the mountains and to Geneva. From Place Gambetta there is a terrific view of Mont Blanc. France Rhône-Alpes Gex
Grenoble (Isère), which is located at the confluence of the Drac and Isère rivers, was the ancient capital of the Dauphiné region and hosted the 1986 Winter Olympics. It is also home to the University of Grenoble making the city a major scientific and engineering center, especially in physics, computer science, mathematics, and nuclear research. The sphere-shaped cable cars (Les Bulles) provide transport to the very popular Fort de la Bastide, an ancient and extensive series of 19th-century fortifications. (photo). Nearby is the Parc Guy Pape, Jardin des Dauphins, and Musée Dauphinois which is a regional museum in a 17th-century convent focusing on local arts, crafts, and history. Across the Isère river is the 13th-century Collégiale Saint-André and the 16th-century Palais de Justice. Other museums include the Musée Stendhal (19th-century novelist), Musée de Grenoble, Musée de l'Ancien Evêché, Musée de la Résistance, and Musée d'Histoire Naturelle. France Rhône-Alpes Grenoble Cable Cars
Grignan (Drôme) lies on hilly terrain east of the Rhône Valley near Montélimar and is surrounded by lavendar fields. The main sight here is the 15/16th-century Château de Grignan (photo) which is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in this part of France. Inside there is a good collection of Louis XII furniture and tapestries from Aubusson. Also in Grignan is La Collégiale Saint-Sauveur (1535) which is located under the castle terrace and was constructed at the request of Louis Adhémar. The Renaissance façade is flanked by two square towers and a beautiful Gothic rose window. Inside is an impressive 17th-century altar and organ loft. France Rhône-Alpes Grignan
Lac Léman (Haute Savoie & Switzerland), also known as Lake Geneva, is the second largest freshwater lake in central Europe. 60 percent is owned by Switzerland and 40 percent by France. Notable towns along the French bank of the lake include: Yvoire, a medieval walled fishing port with a 14th-century castle. Thonon-les-Bains is a spa town sitting on a cliff overlooking the lake. France Rhône-Alpes Lac Léman
Largentière (Ardèche) is located in the narrow valley of the Ligne river southwest of Aubenas. Its name refers to the silver mines in the area between the 10-15th centuries when the silver-bearing lead ores in Largentières sandstone were exploited under the authority of the Counts of Toulouse and the Bishops of Viviers. Sights include the 12-15th century Château, the 13th-century Nôtre-Dame-des-Pommiers, the Renaissance Hôtel de Ville, and the Tour Argentière. France Rhône-Alpes Largentière
Lyon (Rhône) is the second-largest metropolitan area in France (after Paris) and is dramatically situated at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône (photo). It is considered to be the gastronomic capital of the country and has always been a gateway between the north and south of France. The city has outstanding museums, a dynamic cultural life, a thriving university, and plenty of night-life. It also has green parks, paths along the river, and is a hub for the high-speed TGV. There are numerous museums and sights here and a few include the Musée des Beaux Arts, Musée Historique des Tissus (textiles), Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée de l'Imprimerie (commerce), and the Musée d'Art Contemporain. Many visitors are intrigued by the more than 500 traboules which are passageways that form a network of tunnels under or through many of the city's historic buildings. Many of these tunnels are used by the locals as well as tourists and provide shortcuts between a few hundred different streets. Currently, only about 40 are open to the public and the others are privately-owned. France Rhône-Alpes Lyon Basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière
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