The name of the Rhone region – the Alps (Rhône-Alpes) – is derived from two great natural attractions of France: the most full-flowing river of the Rhone country and the highest mountains of Europe, the Alps. The territory of the province, like many in France, is nothing more than a collection of different historical regions, including Savoy, Dauphine, Vivaret, Forez and Lyonne. It is one of the economically and culturally highly developed regions, with the two best universities in France in Lyon and Grenoble, comparable in size to Belgium or Switzerland. The very fact of having two international and four regional airports speaks volumes.
According to Clothesbliss, Rhone-Alpes is the birthplace of many great people, including the remarkable French writer and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupery, after whom the international airport in Lyon is named.
The glory of the province was brought not by a rich historical heritage, not by unique museums with rare collections, not by high-class gastronomy, and not even by the world-famous vineyards of Beaujolais, but by ski resorts. The Rhône-Alpes is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts, from skiing, snowboarding and dog sledding. Everything here is arranged for the convenience of tourists. It is no coincidence that one of the most famous resorts in the region Courchevel was chosen by the richest people in Russia, among the common people by the oligarchs, some of whom even purchased real estate in this territory in the form of a chalet.
Originally, the word “chalet” was used to refer to small Swiss-style rural houses in the Alps. However, later the name for the shepherd’s huts began to be used in connection with comfortable dwellings for relaxing in the mountains.
A large part of the secret of the region’s success among tourists lies in the stunning nature, magnificent landscapes formed by alpine meadows, forests, plateaus, snow-covered peaks, the highest of which is Mont Blanc, huge freshwater lakes, the most famous – Lake Leman or Geneva, Annecy and Bourges, whose shores are a popular place for recreation, and of course, thermal springs. Who does not know Evian premium mineral water, born in the vicinity of the balneological resort of Evian-les-Bains (Évian-les-Bains). The southern part of the Rhône-Alpes, in the form of the departments of Drome and Ardèche, adds bright and warm colors of Provence to the already diverse palette of the region.
Departments and cities of the Rhône-Alpes region
The region consists of eight departments: Isère, with its administrative center in Grenoble, Ardèche, where the administrative center is Privas, Ain, with the main city of Bourg-en-Bresse (Bourg -en-Bresse), Drôme, with capital in Valence (Valence), Loire (Loire), with center in Saint-Étienne (Saint-Étienne), Rhone (Rhône), Savoie (Savoie), with the main city of Chambéry (Chambéry), Haute-Savoie (Haute-Savoie), where the administrative center is Annecy or Annecy (Annecy).
The regional capital and administrative center of the Rhone department is Lyon.
Rhone-Alpes is considered one of the largest ski areas in the world, stretching from Chamonix to Val d’Isère. There are several areas for skiing:
- the Espas -Killa areawith the resorts of Val d’Isere and Tignes
- zone ” Three Valleys” with the resorts of Courchevel, Meribel-Mottaret, La Tania, Val Thorens, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Aurel
- the Port du Soleilarea with the resorts of Morzine, Avoria, Le Jeux, Abondance
- and the Paradiska area withthe resorts of Les Arcs, La Plan, Peyce-Valandry.
Also of great interest are the resorts of Chamonix, Megeve, Saint-Gervais, Alpe-d’Huez, Villars-de-Lans, Les Setes-Los and La Rosières.
No less remarkable are the thermal spas of the region. Among them, the largest are Aix-les-Bains, Evian-les-Bains (familiar to us by the “mineral water” of the same name), Thonon-les-Bains, Divonne-les-Bains, Val-les-Bains, Saint-Gervais.
How to get there
Seven airports connect Rhone-Alpes with other cities. Firstly, direct flights from Moscow are served by Geneva Airport in Switzerland (Aéroport international de Genève – Cointrin), from here it is quite easy to get to many cities in the Rhone-Alpes region. Secondly, two international airports are located inside the province – in Lyon and Grenoble. Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport (Aéroport Lyon-Saint-Exupéry) is located 28 km from the city center and is responsible for regular flights in France and Europe for more than 40 companies.
Grenoble-Isère Airport (Aéroport International de Grenoble-Isère) is located 45 km from the city and serves flights to airports in the UK, Holland, Poland, and Romania. There are charter flights during the ski season. Chambery-Savoie Airport (Aéroport de Chambéry – Savoie) is located 10 km from Chambery and provides regional and international flights to England.
Regional airports Annecy Haute-Savoie – Mont-Blanc (Aéroport Annecy Haute-Savoie Mont-Blanc) 4 km from Annecy, Saint-Étienne-Bouthéon (Aéroport de Saint-Étienne – Bouthéon) 12 km from the city and Valence-Shabuy (Aéroport de Valence) – Chabeuil) are responsible for flights within the province.
Most TGV trains from Paris towards Rhone-Alpes depart from Gare de Lyon. There are first and second grade. Travel time to Lyon is about two hours. The fare for the second class is from 75 EUR.
It takes about three hours to get to Grenoble, the fare for the second class is from 85 EUR. The road to Saint-Etienne will take a little over three hours. The fare for the second class is from 78 EUR. Travel time to Annecy – 3 hours 40 minutes, second class fare – from 89 EUR.
The A6 motorway connects Paris with Lyon. A7 allows you to get from Lyon to Valence, and then to Marseille. You can get to Chamonix from the regional capital using the A42 and A40 autobahns.
Cuisine and restaurants
The city of Lyon is known as one of the gastronomic centers of France. Its cuisine is based on high quality products and recipes proven over the centuries. However, in fairness, it should be noted that other cities of the Rhone-Alpes can also boast of their specialties, which include numerous types of cheeses, nuts from Grenoble, river fish from Drome, apples and pears from Savoy, chestnuts from the Ardèche, lamb from the foothills Alps and, of course, olive oil, which is famous for the southern part of the region.
Cheeses are the hallmark of the province, some of them are made from goat’s milk, the other from cow’s. Picodon, Rigotte de Condrieu, Bleu de Gex, Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage, Fourme de Montbrison – this is a small list of delicious cheese attractions that serve as ingredients for many recipes. In particular, for the Savoy sandwich (tartine savoyarde), where, in addition to cheese, smoked brisket and prunes are added. Berthoud is a kind of hot cheese dressing for jacket potatoes. This is a traditional Savoy dish, which also includes garlic, pepper and white wine.
Stuffed pig’s hoof (pied de cochon farci) is the most favorite dish of the inhabitants of Lyon, and caillettes de Chabeuil, in which the main character is also pork, is popular among those living in the Ardèche. Pote dauphinoise (potée dauphinoise) is an analogue of Russian meat in a pot, only a dish from the Dauphiné department. Lyon sausage baked in dough (cervelas lyonnais en brioche) and Savoy sausages in white wine (diots de Savoie au vin blanc) will delight lovers of meat dishes.
Finally, we note that in general, the cuisine of the region is very high in calories and is designed for the inhabitants of the mountains.
Entertainment and attractions
The region has two national reserves and several natural parks, visiting which you can admire the flora and fauna of the Alps. These are the reserves of Ecrins and Vanoise and the parks of the Massif Bauges, Chartreuse, Upper Jura, the mountains of Ardèche, Vercors and Pila. Numerous lakes and rivers of the province seem to be created for lovers of water sports. Rafting, canoeing, sailing, water skiing – all this is at the disposal of vacationers.
To get acquainted with the cultural heritage of the Rhone-Alpes, it is best to go to Lyon. Here you can find not only unique monuments of the Middle Ages (for example, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Cathédrale Saint-Jean Baptiste), but also ancient ruins: the Fourviere Theater (Théâtre antique de Fourvière), the Aqueduc du Gier, the sanctuary of Cybele (Sanctuaire de Cybèle), the amphitheater of the Three Gauls (Amphitéâtre des Trois Gaules). The Musée des Beaux-arts de Lyon in Lyon is one of the best. It is open every day, except Tuesdays and public holidays, from 10.00 to 18.00. Entrance ticket will cost EUR 8. In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum holds exhibitions, the entrance to which is paid separately. Cost – EUR 9. Website:http://www.mba-lyon.fr
If you want to get acquainted with both permanent and temporary exhibitions, you can purchase a complex ticket at a discount. Its cost is 12 EUR.