08/29 > 09/20/2020

On the road

ISÈRE (38)

Population: 1.2 million

Prefecture: Grenoble

Sub-prefectures: Vienne, La Tour-du-Pin

Surface: 7,431 km²

Heritage: Les Ecrins National Park, Chartreuse Regional Nature Park, Vercors Regional Nature Park, Hauts Plateaux du Vercors Reserve, the largest natural reserve in France. Domaine de Vizille, monastery of the great Chartreuse, Saint-Antoine l'Abbaye, classified among the most beautiful villages in France, Pont-en-Royans, Choranche caves, Grenoble cable car, Chartreuse caves, funicular of St Hilaire du Touvet , medieval city of Crémieu, Vienne, Walibi Rhône-Alpes amusement park, Virieu castle, Touvet castle.

Specialties: walnuts (AOC), St Marcellin (IGP cheese), Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage (PDO cheese), ravioli, Chartreuse liqueur, Bonnat chocolates, antésite. Wines: Coteaux du Grésivaudan, Balmes dauphinoises, Côtes du Rhone (IGP wines), Vitis Vienna (Vienne wines), Vercors trout, alpine meats (beef, lamb), gratin dauphinois, Bourgoin bun, murçon (sausage) ...

Main sports clubs: FC Grenoble (rugby union), Brûleurs de loups (Ice hockey), GF38 (Football), CS Bourgoin-Jallieu (rugby union), Les Ours de Villard (ice hockey), Rugby Sassenage Isère (Women's rugby).

Major competitions: Foulée Blanche in Autrans, Vélo Vert Festival in Villard de Lans, Ut4M (Ultra tour des 4 massif), Trail des passerelles du Monteynard, Echappée Belle (Ultra trail of Belledonne), EuroNordicWalk Vercors, La Marmotte in Alpe d'Huez (Gran Fondo), Icare Cup in Chartreuse, Mégavalanche in Alpe d'Huez.

Festivals: Alpe d'Huez Festival (comedy film festival in Isère - January), Berlioz Festival in Côte Saint-André (August), Jazz Festival in Vienne (July), Autrans mountain film festival (December), Outdoor Short Film Festival in Grenoble (July), Electronic Museum Festival at the Musée dauphinois in Grenoble (June), Vercors Music Festival in Autrans (July), Cabaret Frappé Festival in Grenoble, Musiques en Vercors Festival, Cine-mountains in Grenoble

Economy: Industry, electronics, digital, micro and nanoelectronics, IT, research, health, hydroelectricity, chemistry and environment, energies, hydrotherapy, tourism (21.4 million market and non-market nights - € 2 billion in turnover generated by tourism companies)

Websites: www.isere.fr / www.evasion.ishere.fr / www.alpes-isere.com / www.cyclo-alpes.com  

Isère, with its mountain ranges, its three nature parks (Vercors, Chartreuse and Les Ecrins National Park), its wide open spaces and its plains, responds to the expectations of visitors looking for healthy, fresh air and new experiences to share.

Thanks to the diversity of its reliefs, from the banks of the Rhône to the summits of the Oisans at 3,983 meters above sea level, the Isère is a vast playground. Twenty-two winter sports resorts, spread over four massifs (Belledonne, Chartreuse, Oisans, Vercors) and an endless range of activities to discover: hiking, trail running, cycling routes, canyoning, speleology… Those who prefer to be looked after will opt for relaxing and healthy stays in the thermal spas of Allevard-les-Bains and Uriage-les-Bains, a real well-being break to recharge batteries.

Traveling through Isère is the promise of filling your eyes with breathtaking landscapes and your lungs with pure air in unspoiled nature, exploring the gems of heritage, vibrating to the rhythm of festivals, finding the true and simple taste of local products, to make beautiful meetings with the locals and share their attachment to the territory…

Km 9.5

Val-de-Virieu (Ppo : 1,550)

Val-de-Virieu was created in 2019 from the merger of the municipalities of Virieu and Panissage. The town owes its fame above all to the presence on its soil of the imposing Château de Virieu, a tourist hotspot in region.

Castle of Virieu
Astonishing by its military character and its French gardens, its most beautiful rooms are open to visitors: the Louis XIII room, the medieval kitchen, the chapel (17th century) and the keep with its funnel vault.
It was around the year 1000 that a seigniorial line was established, represented by Wilfrid of Virieu. As stone castles did not yet exist in the region at the time, Wilfrid resided on a mound. At the beginning of the 12th century, the construction was replaced by a small stone castle. However, the most imposing constructions date from the 13th century after Siboud IV of Clermont acquired the seigneury by his marriage to Beatrix of Virieu. Thanks to his fortune, Siboud de Clermont built a powerful tuff rubble fortress (keep, enclosure and corner towers). The castle then underwent other important transformations, especially at the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century. The castle remained uninhabited for 50 years until 1924, when François-Henri de Virieu undertook its restoration with architect Sainte-Marie Perrin.
The Virieu family also owns nearby, in Chabons, a beautiful listed neo-medieval castle, Château de Pupetières, partly designed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and where the poets Alphonse de Lamartine and Anna de Noailles lived.

Galoche (Clogs) History Museum
It presents the history of clog-makers and wooden-soled shoes, during guided tours. The “galoche” is not exactly the same as a clog ... The two are often mistaken for one another, however the difference is simple: the clog is entirely cut in a piece of wood, while the “galoche” is made of a wooden sole on which is nailed the upper part, made of leather. The “galoche”, ignored in most shoe museums, is honored in Isère in the only place entirely dedicated to it in France.

Km 16

Villages of Lake Paladru

Lake Paladru
It was shaped during the Ice Age by the mighty Rhone Glacier. Six-km long and 1-km wide, it is the 5th largest natural lake in France. Located in the hollow of the Voiron hills at an altitude of 500 m, it has an ideal water temperature of 25 ° C in midsummer. The average depth is around 30 metres. With its beautiful turquoise color due to the presence of lake chalk, the lake is ideal for hiking, fishing and nautical activities. It also harbours archaeological treasures.
Several spaces are listed as "protected natural areas", including the Colletière reed bed or the "Grands Roseaux" (Big Reed) at the north end of the lake. They are a, ideal environment for nesting birds (mallards, swans, coots or great crested grebes) and spawning fish (carp, tench ...) and therefore remain inaccessible.
In Alain Resnais’s film Same Old Song, Agnès Jaoui is working on a thesis on “The Knights of 1000 at Lake Paladru”.

Km 31

Voiron (Pop : 20,000)

A village of importance in the Middle Ages, Voiron retains traces of the period, still visible today: the Saint-Pierre church (built in 752), the Barral Tower (vestige of the medieval castle) and the Sermorens district, its historical heart. In the 17th century, many craft activities took root: hemp, canvas, leather ... During the industrial revolution, Voiron became famous for its silk and paper industries, which settled along the river flowing through: the Morge. Over the years, renowned companies have taken root in Voiron: Rossignol skis, Radiall electronic components, the Bonnat chocolate factory, drinks with Antésite plant extracts, Denantes weavings, the toy wholesaler who owns the King Jouet brand, Sidas sports technologies ... And of course the famous Chartreuse Cellars and their green and amber liqueurs.
The city changed after WWII by expanding and creating with new districts. Voiron became a modern city open to the world through its commercial dynamism and its twinning with the cities of Herford (Germany), Bassano del Grappa (Italy) and Sibenik (Croatia).
Voiron is the birthplace of handball player Véronique Pecqueux-Rolland, a key member of the world champion French team in 2003. The city has hosted the Critérium du Dauphiné five times, the last time in 2019, when Wout Van Aert won the stage.

Chartreuse cellars
Farmers, breeders, loggers and then masters of forge, the Chartreux monks later became distillers. In the largest liqueur cellars in the world, they still hide their manufacturing secrets ... A miniature bottle is offered (to adults) for holders of the Chartreuse + card.
Pending renovation works, the visit to the cellars will be closed and will reopen in the summer of 2021. A temporary replacement will be available very soon, for any information: www.chartreuse.fr

Km 47.5

Saint-Laurent-du-Pont (Pop : 4,530)

Saint-Laurent-du-Pont was the birthplace of cyclist Charles Berty, former holder of the 100 km world record. The time trial specialist, who participated in the Tour de France in 1935, 1936 and 1939, died in deportation in Mauthausen in 1944 at the age of 32. A stadium in Grenoble took his name before being demolished for the construction of the Stade des Alpes.

Km 58

Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse (Pop : 1,020)

Known mainly for the presence on its soil of the Grande Chartreuse monastery, Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse experienced a new boom after WWII thanks to the development of skiing and several sites on its soil dedicated to the practice of winter sports. Belgian singer Jacques Brel had a house in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse and a festival, Les Rencontres Brel, took place in town between 1988 and 2018 before disappearing. The village was very often crossed by the Tour de France and the Critérium du Dauphiné as the peloton tackled Col de Porte.

Grande Chartreuse museum
The Grande Chartreuse monastery, founded by St Bruno in 1084, is a must-see destination. If the monastery remains a place of prayer, the museum can be visited and sheds light on the life of the monks withdrawn in solitude and silence. In the heart of the Chartreuse nature park, the museum displays original documents and testimonies on the 900 years of history of the Carthusians, their vocation and their daily and spiritual life. The entire visit can be done with an audio guide, available in several languages (special children's route). In 2020 an entirely new guided tour, mixing the history of logging with pastoralism, metallurgy, until the realization of the Elixir, is available.

The Charterhouse
In 1605, the Duke of Estrées gave the monks of the Charterhouse of Vauvert, in Paris, a manuscript revealing the formula of an elixir containing almost all of the medicinal plants of the time, whose origin is unknown. In 1737, the monastery of Grande-Chartreuse decided to make a thorough research on the recipe. Its apothecary, Brother Jérôme Maubec, was in charge of the task. In 1764, he finalised the formula for what became the Elixir of Grande-Chartreuse. Still used today, this elixir has a 69 ° rating. The Chartreuse Verte, at 55 °, was developed in 1840. Its success was immediate. In 1903, the Carthusians were expelled from France. They took away their secret with them and set up a distillery in Tarragona and then in Marseille until 1929. The monks then rediscovered the use of the Chartreuse appellation and resumed distillation in France, in their old distillery of Fourvoirie, near the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse. These buildings were destroyed in 1935 by a landslide. Manufacturing was then transferred to Voiron, where it remained until November 2017 before being moved to Entre-Deux-Guiers.
Invested in this mission by their Order, two monks work in the greatest secrecy and are alone to know the details of the production. The formula remains a mystery that modern methods of investigation have not been able to unravel.

Km 66.5

Col de Porte (1,326 m)

Climbed eighteen times by the Tour de France since 1907, it was until 1910 one of the main difficulties of the race, soon overshadowed by the Tourmalet and the Galibier. It has not been climbed since 1998, when Stephane Heulot was in the lead. But the pass remained a classic of the Criterium du Dauphiné.

Km 77.5

Corenc (Pop: 4,000)

Very close to Grenoble, this quiet commune has benefited since the end of the 19th century from the installation on its soil of several luxurious second homes belonging to wealthy Grenoble families such as the Bouchayers, the Balthazars or the Cartier-Millos, owners of the Lustucru pasta brand. Hence its nickname of Petit Nice and its average income per inhabitant among the highest in France, since the high incomes of the high-tech companies based in Grenoble followed the trend and settled in Corenc or in the neighboring municipalities.
The most interesting monument of the town is the (private) castle of Bouquéron. If a legend attributes the construction of this castle to Roland (Charlemagne's nephew) during his (supposed) siege of Grenoble, the first known mention of the castle dates from 1100. It was then refurbished and enlarged in the 15th century, then became a thermal establishment in 1852, before being sold in 1908.

Km 80.5

Meylan (Pop: 17,300)

Headquarters of the Innovallée technopole, focused on information and communication technologies, Meylan is part of the Grenoble-Alpes-Métropole metropolitan area.
It was the city of residence of former French football international Albert Batteux, who died there in 2003. A key player of Stade de Reims between 1937 and 1952, he later became one of the most respected coaches in France, managing notably Reims, Saint-Etienne, and the French national team between 1955 and 1962.

Km 87

Domène (Pop: 6,700)

Home to a Benedictine priory in the 11th century, whose beautiful ruins are listed historical monuments, Domène prospered from the end of the 19th century thanks to stationery. Léon Trotski (1879-1940) stayed on 56 route de Savoie, in the villa of Domène teacher Laurent Beau for a year (from July 1934 to June 1935) after his expulsion from the USSR.

Km 93

Revel (Pop: 1,310)

It is the birthplace of biathlete Anaïs Chevalier, multiple world championship medalist and bronze medalist at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Km 106.5

Vaulnaveys-le-Haut (Pop: 3,350)

Charterhouse of Premol
A little downstream from Lake Luitel can be seen the remains of the former Charterhouse of Prémol, founded in 1234 by Beatrix of Montferrat (the wife of Dauphin Andrew Guigues), several times damaged by fires (notably in 1467 and 1707) and destroyed during the French Revolution. After the charterhouse was deserted in 1791, the peasants of the surroundings rushed to loot and dismantle the buildings. La Porterie, an imposing building in ruins, served as a forest house. It is the subject of a rehabilitation study. The remains of Beatrix of Montferrat may still be present on the spot where the church was built.

Km 116

Vizille (Pop: 7,700 inhabitants)

Important crossing point between Italy and Grenoble, Vizille was originally a Gallic oppidum. The Romans often had to give up the passage as they were repelle by the Celtic Allobroges. The town became Castra Vigiliae, a military station on the Roman road. Possession of the Cluny Abbey in the 10th century, it was taken by the Protestants in the 16th century, then by the Catholics. Lesdiguières, named lieutenant-general of the Dauphiné, acquired the old castle and had it rebuilt.
On July 21, 1788, following the Tiles Day (June 7), the notables of the Grenoble region organized the Vizille Assembly bringing together 50 priests, 165 nobles and 276 representatives of the third estate. The assembly demanded the meeting of the Estates General and their vote by head. Despite its democratic appearance, announcing the French Revolution, the Vizille Assembly was first of all the expression of the opposition of the privileged classes to Brienne's attempts at reforms, notably fiscal ones.
Thierry Claveyrolat, the best climber in the 1990 Tour, was nicknamed "the Eagle of Vizille". Winner of two stages of the Tour, he killed himself in the nearby village of Notre-Dame de Mésage.

Departmental estate of Vizille
The estate includes the Château de Vizille, formerly the castle of the Duke of Lesdiguières, which became a residence of the presidents of the French Republic before being sold to the General Council of Isère. Since 1984 the castle has housed a museum of the French Revolution.
The gardens of the Park of the departmental estate of Vizille extend in front of the château over a hundred hectares. They were once the private hunting grounds of the Duke of Lesdiguières. They include large expanses of lawns bordering a canal, French-style flowerbeds, a forest with hundred-year-old trees with multiple species, a rose garden and an animal park of around sixty hectares.

Km 123.5

Le Pont-de-Claix (Pop : 10,400)

The city takes its name from the bridge built between 1608 and 1611 on the Drac on the initiative of François de Bonne, future Duke of Lesdiguières, who had major works undertaken after the capture of Grenoble in 1590. This bridge, a technical feat in its time, was doubled by a more accessible bridge at the end of the 19th century, at the time when the village prospered thanks to the paper industry then to the establishment of the Great mills of Villancourt.
The city hosted Critérium du Dauphiné stage starts in 2013 and 2016. In 1950, it was by attacking at a feed zone in Pont-de-Claix that Louison Bobet led a decisive attack on the road to Saint-Etienne.

Km 125.5

Claix (Pop: 8,000)

The young Stendhal spent long periods of his childhood in Claix, where his family owned property. This was also the case for Hector Berlioz, whose uncle Victor Berlioz owned the Château de la Balme. Dozens of small castles, fortified houses or manors are still found on the territory of the municipality. The most spectacular monument of Claix is ​​undoubtedly the Fort de Comboire, built to protect Grenoble during the war of 1870 and which is remarkably preserved.

Km 131

Seyssins (Pop: 7,700)

Seyssins is notably the city of Yves Brouzet, former French shotput record holder and his son, international rugby player Olivier Brouzet, capped 72 times by France. It was also the cycling club of Andy Flickinger, who participated in the Tour de France in 2002 and 2003 before becoming sports director at Europcar then Delko Marseille-Provence.
In 2012, Seyssins hosted a stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné won by Cadel Evans.

Km 143

Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte (Pop : 1,100)

Saint-Nizier hosted the ski jumping events of the 1968 Grenoble Olympic Games at the foot of the Trois Pucelles, the three rocky summits overlooking the village. According to a legend, these are the three daughters of the Lord of Naves who were turned into stone by Charlemagne.

National Memorial and Necropolis of Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte
The memorial is a national historic site which is located approximately 1 km from the village centre. This monument was built to accommodate the remains and commemorate the civil resistance and soldiers who died in the Second World War. The memorial is located on the very site of the Battle of Vercors, which took place between June 13 and 15, 1944. The National necropolis gathers the bodies and the memory of 98 resistance fighters, in particular writer Jean Prévost (captain Goderville), Eugène Chavant (Clément) and François Huet (Hervieux).
The ascent of Saint-Nizier-de-Moucherotte (14.6 km at 6.8%) was climbed four times on the Tour de France between 1950 and 1989.

Km 150.5

Lans-en-Vercors (Pop : 2,650)

Located in the northern sector of the Vercors Massif known as the “Four Mountains”, at the gates of the Vercors Regional Nature Park, the climatic health resort of Lans-en-Vercors, which already attracted the people of Grenoble more than a century ago, gradually became a resort whose accessible ski domain appeals to families and beginners.
Surrounded by the summits of the Grand Cheval (1,827 m), Pic Saint Michel (1,966 m) and Les Virets (1,768 m), the Alpine ski domain of the Montagnes de Lans offers 24 pistes of all levels staged between 1,400 m and 1,807 m.
If the links of Stendhal with the town, often mentioned, seem remote, artist Niki de Saint-Phalle settled there for three years in 1958.
In 1985, Colombian Fabio Parra won the only stage of the Tour de France finishing in Lans-en-Vercors in front of his compatriot Lucho Herrera. In 2018, Julian Alaphilippe won a stage here at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

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