Rhône-Alpes: Wikis


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—  Region of France  —


Country France
Prefecture Lyon
 - President Jean-Jack Queyranne (PS)
 - Total 43,698 km2 (16,871.9 sq mi)
Population (2007-01-01)
 - Total 6,058,000
 - Density 138.6/km2 (359.1/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
NUTS Region FR7
Website rhonealpes.fr

Rhône-Alpes (French pronunciation: [ron.alp]  ( listen); Arpitan: Rôno-Arpes; Occitan: Ròse Aups) is one of the 26 regions of France, located on the eastern border of the country, towards the south. The region was named after the Rhône River and the Alps mountain range. Its capital, Lyon, is the second-largest metropolitan area in France after Paris. Rhône-Alpes is also the 6th European economic region.



A map of the région

Rhône-Alpes is located in the east of France. To the north are the French regions of Bourgogne (Burgundy) and Franche-Comté, to the west it borders the region Auvergne, to the south it borders Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The east of the region contains the western part of the Alps and borders Switzerland and Italy. The highest peak is Mont Blanc, on the Italian border. The central part of the region is taken up with the valley of the Rhône and the Saône. The confluence of these two rivers is at Lyon. The western part of the region contains the start of the Massif Central mountain range. The region also borders or contains major lakes such as Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and Lake Annecy. The Ardèche is home to the deepest gorge in Europe.

Economic center of Rhône-Alpes

As with the rest of France, French is the only official language of the region. 50 years ago, Franco-Provençal was widely spoken in the whole region. Many of the inhabitants of the south spoke varieties of Occitan although it is in steep decline in this region. There were relatively large immigrant populations from Poland, Italy, Portugal and North Africa, amongst other places.

Rhône-Alpes is made up of the following départements:

Lyon's early 17th-century city hall (Hôtel de Ville)
The Kiosque Peynet on the Champ de Mars in Valence.
Castle and rooftops in the old section of Chambéry
The Palais de l'Isle in Annecy


Rhône-Alpes contains 3 major cities in France. It forms the triangle Lyon - Grenoble - Saint-Etienne. This triangle is the economic core of the region. These three urban areas are very complementary, and have smaller cities around, like satellites.

  • Lyon's area : 1,798,395 inhabitants (2008)
  • Grenoble's area : 560,453 inhabitants (2008)
  • Saint-Etienne's area : 321,703 inhabitants (1999)
  • Valence's area : 164,334 inhabitants (2008)


The biggest agglomeration to the smallest :


Although there have been people in Rhône-Alpes since pre-historic times, the earliest recorded settlers of the region were the Gauls. Cities such as Lyon were founded by them and the region traded with both northern and southern Europe. Most of the area became part of Roman territory during the invasion of Gaul led by Julius Caesar and was at various times part of the regions of Lugdunensis and Gallia. Lyon itself became a major Roman city.

The region, excepting Savoy, was part of the Merovingian and Carolingian Kingdoms before becoming a royal territory under the Capetians. As it became a royal territory early on in French history, its history has not differed much from France since. (see History of France)


Main article : Transports in Rhône-Alpes.

Rhône-Alpes is a major European transit hub, linking northern France and Europe to the Mediterranean area. Millions travel along its motorways in summertime from Paris to holidays at the sea. The E15 Euroroute (Britain to Spain) runs through the region. There are international airports at Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Étienne and many other minor airports and airfields. The region is also a transport hub for the rail-network with the TGV running through Lyon from Paris and the north, to the Mediterranean. A trans-national, high-speed rail-link is under construction from Lyon to Turin.


Main article : Economy of Rhône-Alpes

Rhône-Alpes is a prosperous region, its economy second in size only to Île-de-France in France. This can be attributed to the diversity of the production in different sectors.

  • Industry, in particular:
    • Light engineering and high-tech
    • Mechanical engineering in the area of Annecy
    • Special machining in the area of Cluses
  • Services, in particular:
    • High-tech industries & nanotechnology, especially in Grenoble
    • Tourism with the Alps (for skiing), Lyon and Grenoble (for culture) and the Ardèche (adventure sports/camping) particularly popular
    • Education, with major universities in Lyon and Grenoble

In the past mining, especially coal mining was an important sector, particularly around Saint-Étienne, although this has declined.

It should be noted that the area of the region that lies close to Switzerland has an economy linked to that of Geneva. Indeed, this area forms a hinterland for the Geneva hub.

Major cities

Annecy Saint-Chamond
Bourg-en-Bresse Saint-Étienne
Bron Saint-Martin-d'Hères
Caluire-et-Cuire Saint-Priest
Chambéry Valence
Grenoble Vaulx-en-Velin
Lyon Vénissieux
Roanne Villeurbanne


Main article : Olympique Lyonnais.

Rhône-Alpes is the home of several successful football teams, including Olympique Lyonnais (current French Champions) and AS Saint-Étienne (one of the former clubs of Michel Platini). Another team has come in the french top-level in 2008 : Grenoble Foot 38.


Lyon is noted as a gastronomic center of France and specialities served in its traditional bouchons include Lyon sausage, special salami (known here as "rosette"), tripe and quenelles. In the east of the region the food has an Alpine flavour with dishes such as fondue,raclette common, gratin dauphinois and gratin savoyard. The region is also famous for its Bresse poultry and the many varieties of cheese including Tomme de Savoie, Bleu de Bresse, Reblochon, Saint-Marcellin and Vacherin.

Wines are also interesting in this region such as the very famous Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône and Savoy wine.

Chartreuse liqueur is made in the region.


The Bastille, 260 m above Grenoble

Situated between Paris and the Côte d’Azur, on the border with both Switzerland and Italy, and offering access to two international airports (Lyon and Geneva), impressive rail connections and a vast motorway network, the Rhône-Alpes region is at "the crossroads of Europe".

Boasting 8 natural parks and peerless sites such as Mont Blanc and the Gorges de l’Ardèche, the Rhône-Alpes offers a wide range of different landscapes: mountains, vineyards and gentle valleys, fields of lavender and olive groves.

Every form of sport is readily available, set against an impressive natural backdrop: hiking, mountain biking or even paragliding and canoeing… the Rhône-Alpes is not only the second most important golfing region in France with over 60 courses but it also has the largest ski area in the world and has hosted the Winter Olympics three times.

Enthusiasts of art and culture will not be disappointed by the region’s Villes d’Art: Lyon, which is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, Annecy, Grenoble, Chambéry, and Saint Etienne.

And last but not least, connoisseurs of good food and wine will be spoilt for choice by the range of local specialties available to taste along with a Beaujolais or a Côtes du Rhône, and by the sheer number of famous restaurants (with Paul Bocuse at the top of the list) in the region.


There are six main lakes in Rhône-Alpes


For several centuries Lyon, capital of Rhône-Alpes, has been known as the French capital of gastronomy, due, in part, to the presence of many of France's finest chefs in the city and its surroundings (e.g. Paul Bocuse). This reputation also comes from the fact that two of France's best known wine-growing regions are located near Lyon: the Beaujolais to the North, and the Côtes du Rhône to the South. Beaujolais wine is very popular in Lyon and remains the most common table wine served with local dishes.

Lyon is the home of very typical and traditional restaurants: the bouchons. Bouchons are usually convivial restaurants serving local dishes, and local wines.

Lyon is famous for its morning snacks, the mâchons, made up of local charcuterie and usually accompanied by Beaujolais red wine. Traditional local dishes include saucisson de Lyon (sausage), andouillette, coq au vin, esox (pike) quenelle, gras double (tripe cooked with onions), salade lyonnaise (lettuce with bacon, croutons and a poached egg), marrons glacés and cardoon au gratin.

See also

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Rhône-Alpes article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : France : Southeastern France : Rhône-Alpes

France's largest region in terms of size and second largest in population, the Rhône-Alpes region is a very attractive place for travelers.


Numbers are département codes used in car number plates and poste pin codes.

  • Lyon, the second biggest French city
  • Grenoble, large academic centre where the Winter Olympic Games of 1968 took place
  • Annecy, lovely town with a beautiful lake
  • Chambéry, once the capital of the Dukedom of Savoie
  • Privas
  • Saint-Etienne
  • Valence
  • Chamonix, the heart of alpine France. Host of the first Winter Olympic games in 1924
  • Samoëns, a charming and typical example of a French mountain village
  • Albertville, site of the 1992 Winter Olympics

More on FrenchAlps.co.uk [1]


The Rhône-Alpes region has a huge diversity of landscapes due to its climactic and topographic variation.

The topography of the Rhône-Alpes region consists of two areas of high elevation divided by the Rhône Valley, which runs north-south. The western mountains are part of the Massif Central. It is an area of high hills and plateaus, mostly made of old, acidic metamorphic rock. East of the Rhône Valley plains are the Alps. these tall, young mountains are themselves very diverse and should be divided into at least two groups. A central part of the region is occupied by a north-south line of well-defined mountainous massifs: from north to south, Bornes, Beauges, Chartreuse, Vercors, Baronies. These mountains are mainly made of limestone and are becoming a karst landscape. Another, less prominent valley divides this central area from the eastern part of the region, the Alps proper, which contains some of Europe's highest mountains, such as Mont Blanc. These mountains are made of acidic rocks such as granite.

The diverse climate of the Rhône-Alpes region is due to a blending of four weather influences: Mediterranean to the south, Alpine to the east, Continental to the north, and Atlantic to the west.

Get in

By plane

The easiest way for people traveling from abroad to arrive is through one of the major international airports in the region which include: Cointrin International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland (IATA:GVA) [2], Bron International Airport in Lyon (IATA: LYN) [3], and Grenoble Isère International Airport in Grenoble(IATA:GNB) [4].

A host of smaller airports in towns like: Valence, and Chambéry.

By train

Europe in general and France specifically has a wonderful network of high speed trains that can bring you into the region in a matter of hours from such far flung places as Belgium and Germany.

Get around

All the ski resorts of the region are connected by major highways and paved mountain roads, be sure to carry change though as the motor ways (denoted by A## are pay roads). If you're not travelling by car, then the most convenient way to access these sites from major airports and train stations is by private taxi. Chambery Airport features a handy multi-lingual taxi service, Taxis Savoie [5], which can provide drivers fluent in English, German, Spanish and other European languages. An other less convenient but also less expensive option are the SAT buses.



  • Mt Blanc, the highest point in all of Europe, it can easily be visited from the mountain town of Chamonix. A popular activity is to ride the tram to the top of the Aguille-de-midi above the town on clear days and ride the cable cars across to the Italian side of the mountain spanning the massive Mer-de-glace glacier with only one support tower.


Explore Chamonix, a little village near Mt. Blanc, also don't miss the scenic and serene Vallee Du Giffre with its tiny French mountain villages located between the Chamonix valley and Portes du Soleil Visit Annecy, with its charming old town and stunning lake, and paddle boat rentals. Other charming alpine towns include, Les Gets, Samoëns, Morillon, St. Gervais, Albertville and Morzine.

In the winter months this is the heart of Skiing in France with many of the largest and most well developed resorts located here including: Chamonix, Portes du Soleil, Le Grande Massif, Flaine, La Clusaz, Megeve, Les Trois Vallee, Les Grandes Montets, Les Houches, Les Contamines, St. Gervais.

In the summer the region is also well know for Paragliding, lovely hiking in the Cirque Du Fer-A-Cheval national park, and of course year round traditional dining.

  • Le Beaujolais Est Arrivé! - Every 3rd Thursday of November, the new Beaujolais Nouveau wine arrives at bars and restaurants across France and select places around the world. This wine, from the historical Beaujolais province and wine producing region which is located north of Lyon, and covers parts of the northern part of the Rhône département and parts of the southern part of the Saône-et-Loire département (Burgundy), is a young wine meant to be drunk as soon as possible as it does not age very well.


Raclette, Gratin Dauphinois, Ravioles, Caillettes, Tartiflette, Fondue, Local smoked meats and sausages, As well as Numerous kinds of local cheese including: Comté, Tomme, Gruyère, etc... The Valrhona chocolate (created in 1922), Nougat de Montelimar (which is white nougat made with sugar, honey, white of egg, vanilla, almonds, pistachio nuts or crystallized fruit), The Pogne de Romans (large Brioche made with eggs and flavoured with orange flour and rum. The origins of this dish lie in the middle ages.), La Caillette de Chabeuil (an excellent little paté made of liver and pork meat flavoured with herbs.)


The main wine appellations in the area are Vin de Savoie, Vin de Savoie Mousseux, crépy Roussette de Savoie, and seyssel. Vin de Savoie, the area's main appellation, is for dry wines-white, red, and rosé. The grapes for red wines are gamay, mondeuse and pinot noir. Many wine aficionados prefer the Mondeuse-based wines. White wines make up 75 percent of the production. They're made primarily from jacquère but aligoté, altesse, chardonnay and chasselas are also used. The Vin de Savoie Mousseux AC is for sparkling wines made from Altesse, Molette, and Chardonnay.

Stay safe

This is a relatively low crime area, one notable issue being occasional ski theft during the winter sports season.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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  1. A région of France.

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