On the road
Prefecture : Chambéry
Subprefectures : Albertville, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Population : 409,000
Website : www.savoie-mont-blanc.com
Tourism has been the main economic strength of Savoie for many years. With its 60 ski resorts, its three natural parks – Vanoise, Bauges and Chartreuse -, and its six spa towns - Aix-les-Bains, Aix Marlioz, Challes-les-eaux, Brides-les-Bains, la Léchère, Salins-les-Thermes – rhe department offers plenty of opportunities to visitors. Metal and energetic industries combined with cross-border exchanges accounft for a low rate of unemployment. Along with its natural beauty, Savoie also has many remains from the prestigious past of the Duchy of Savoy, the Chambery castle being the most remarkable. Savoie hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
Prefecture : Valence
Sub-prefectures : Die, Nyons
Mountainous in Vercors and Devoluy, close to Provence in the south, active and dynamic in the lowlands in Valence, Romans or Montelimar, Drome is a perfect summary of the Rhone-Alpes region as a whole.
Its industrial vocation – food industry, clothing, aeronautics – has adapted to the times but its agriculture remains solid thanks to quality products like its wines – Hermitage, clairette – its olive oil or truffles.
For tourists, reasons to visit Drome are many. The department borders the South of France and offers plenty of attractive sites like the Grignan castle, the Ideal Palace of postman Cheval or the village of Mirmande.
But nature might well be Drome’s most cherished treasure, in Vercors especially.
Prefecture : Privas
Sub-prefectures : Largentiere, Tournon-sur-Rhone
A rural department for the most part, Ardeche is the only French department without a railway station. Tourists do not seem to mind as they flock by the thousands in the summer in this preserved land, a haven for green tourism. From the gorges of Ardeche to the South, so dear to canoeists and trekkers, to the green Ardeche to the North and across the Natural Park of the Ardeche mounts and the famous Mount Gerbier des Joncs, the department offers an extraordinary variety of sumptuous landscapes.
Industry is not absent in the Rhone valley or in the North near Annonay, but agriculture remains a strength with chestnut, fruit and excellent wines such as Cornas or St Peray.
Km 20 : Epierre
The village of Epierre is located on the banks of the Arc river, between the towns of La Chambre and Aiguebelle, in a tight gorge formed by the two mountain ridges dominating the river. It was one the best spots to lock the Arc valley hence the presence of a fortified castle.
Little is known of the origins of the 12th century castle, which left important remnants today. In the 15th century, it belonged to the La Chambre family. In 1545, Jean de La Chambre took the title of lord of Epierre. In 1673, the ruined castle was handed to the town magistrates, who did not have the means to restore it and left it unattended. The solid walls however passed the test of time and are still standing today.
Préfecture : Lyon
Site web : www.rhonealpes.fr
Deuxième par sa taille, par son poids économique et sa population, la région Rhône-Alpes est aussi la sixième d'Europe, articulée autour de quatre pôles principaux : Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne et même Genève qui, par sa proximité, joue un rôle crucial dans l'économie et les échanges. Dans ce vaste ensemble se trouvent rassemblées toutes les industries imaginables, mais la région n'oublie jamais sa vocation agricole, sa production de fruits et de grands vins. Sur le plan touristique, la région concentre les stations de ski les plus célèbres de France, mais est aussi largement ouverte au tourisme vert, dans l'Ain comme dans l'Ardèche ou la Drôme.
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