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 11

Crolles (Pop: 8,250)

The main town in Grésivaudan, it is the seat of the community of communes of the valley. Located at the same time in the Chartreuse Regional Nature Park, and in the urban area of ​​Grenoble, Crolles can be defined as a small town in the countryside. It gave its name to one of the highest peaks of the Chartreuse massif, the Dent de Crolles (Tooth of Crolles, 2,062 m), which overlooks it. Long rural, it has developed its industry, hosting in particular the Teisseire syrups, which have set up their headquarters there.
From its past, Crolles has kept parts of the Ayes Abbey, founded in the 12th century by Marguerite de Bourgogne, the massive Château de Crolles or Bernis, a fortified house built in the 14th century, and the ruins of Château de Montfort.
In 2010, Crolles was the start of a stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, won at Alpe d'Huez by Alberto Contador.

Km 24.5

Goncelin (Pop: 2,430)

The Goncelin Castle (14th century fortified house), the fortified houses of Montpansard, La Tour Noire and Truc constitute the heritage of Goncelin.  

Gardens of Château du Touvet
Designed in 1750, the Touvet gardens and their remarkable Italian-style water staircase draw visitors into a preserved and precious world. This water staircase is a masterpiece of garden architecture, unique in France. It is fed by a torrent of Chartreuse and a profusion of springs which enliven ponds, fountains and basins and is accompanied by the splendour of French gardens with flowerbeds of boxwood and trimmed yew. The 5-ha park is divided into various spaces: the enclosed garden of the Countess, the rose garden, the vegetable patch and the orchard, the undergrowth, the country meadow. It has been awarded the “remarkable garden” label from the Ministry of Culture.

Km 27

Crêts-en-Belledonne (Pop: 3,340)

The commune is the result of the merger of the towns of Morêtel-de-Mailles and Saint-Pierre-d'Allevard. A border area with Savoy until 1860, the town keeps the remains of fortified houses which belonged to the mandate of Moretel: Bouthière (former strong house of the Guiffrey de Boutières family), Mailles (strong house of the lords of Mailles), the castle of Morêtel (Maison de Belledonne) at Les Fontaines. The place called "Le Fort" recalls the existence of the fortress of the lords of Moretel, destroyed on the orders of Lesdiguières in 1593 after having taken it back from the Savoyards of the Marquis de Trefford who used its position to ravage the Grésivaudan valley.
In Saint-Pierre, which depended on the mandate of Allevard, the Saint-Pierre church which gave its name to the town is the vestige of a Benedictine priory dependent on the Abbey of Cluny. Saint-Pierre d´Allevard was one of the industrial jewels of the region at the end of the 19th century thanks to the presence of the Forges d'Allevard and the La Taillat iron mines. Remain of this industrial past a furnace to “roast” the ore, sections of the Forges d'Allevard railway and, in Pinsot, the museum of the forges and the mills, which takes visitors back into an era when the hammer of the forge struck reddened iron in cadence to shape it and transform it into a tool.

Km 34.5

Allevard-les-Bains (Pop: 4,100)

Since the decline and disappearance of the Forges, Allevard-les-Bains has developed into a spa, a vocation already strongly anchored in the 19th century, where many personalities from the political or cultural world frequented the thermal baths (writer Alphonse Daudet, Lyon mayor Edouard Herriot, photographer Nadar, the Lumière brothers, composer Jules Massenet ...) People come from all over France to treat their rheumatic pains, respiratory tract disorders or fibromyalgia. The thermal water from Allevard is one of the most sulfur-loaded waters in the world. It owes its therapeutic properties, in addition to its richness in sulfur, to its neutral ph and its strong mineralization. Allevard has hosted the Critérium du Dauphiné five times, the last in 2010 for a start towards Sallanches, where Edvald Boasson-Hagen won.


Population: 437,915

Prefecture: Chambery

Sub-prefectures: Albertville, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

Surface: 6,028 km2

Specialties: Raclette, tartiflette, fondue, crozets (pasta in square form, made with buckwheat flour ...), diots and pormoniers, (pork sausages cooked in white wine) Saint-Genix (brioche with red pralines), cake of Savoy , chocolate truffles, bugnes (donuts), génépi (mountain plant liqueur), cheese from Savoy (Tome des Bauges, Beaufort.)

Sports clubs: Chambéry Savoie Handball (D1)

Competitions: world dog sledding championship January 2019, Davis Cup round in February 2018, 2017 world men's handball championships, world rowing championship in Aiguebelette in August 2015, Critérium de la Première neige in Val d'Isère and FIS World Cup in Courchevel (annual), Mountain Bike Trials Trial round (August 2016 in Albertville), Critérium du Dauphiné (annual, in June)

Main tourist sites: in addition to the largest ski areas in the world, the Savoy has heritage and natural sites of magnitude: the abbey of Hautecombe (banks of Lake Bourget), the castle of the Dukes of Savoy (Chambéry), the forts of the Esseillon barrier, the Vanoise national park, the regional natural parks of the Bauges and Chartreuse massifs, lake Bourget and lake Aiguebelette... etc.

Cultural events: Musilac in Aix-les-Bains, Les Estivales in Savoie in Chambéry, Le Grand Bivouac in Albertville, The European Cinema Festival of Les Arcs

Economy: tourism, agro-food, eco-industries, mountain industries, composite materials, information and communication technologies, metalworking

Websites and social networks: www.savoie.fr / www.facebook.com/SavoieDepartement/ / twitter.com/SavoieDepart / @SavoieDepartement / @SavoieDepart

Km 45.5

La Rochette (3 400 hab.)  

Château de La Rochette
The first known lord of La Rochette was Hugon in 1153. From 1343, the castle belonged to the Montmayeur family until 1426, when it passed to Jean de Seyssel, Lord Marshall of Savoy. In 1630, the castle was destroyed by the troops of King Louis XIII. It was rebuilt in the 17th century by the D’Allinges and bought in the mid-19th by a family of rich industrials, the Reys. In 1937, they handed the building over to the Savoy department to build a pensioners home.

Km 76

Epierre (770 hab.)

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.  

Epierre 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.

Website : www.epierre-savoie.com

Km 88.5

La Chambre (Pop: 1,200)

With its population of 1,200, this canton chef-lieu is located on the road to the famous mountain passes of La Madeleine and the Glandon and close to ski resorts.  

Church of the Assumption
The church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary became a collegial in 1514. Its beautiful Romanesque porch is a masterpiece of the 13th century religious architecture in Savoy and prefigures Gothic art. Restored in 1995, the church can be visited every Thursday in the summer.

Km 102

Saint-François-Longchamp (Pop: 460)

The first ski resort in Maurienne astonishes by its magnificent mountain environment and an extraordinary view reaching as far as the Mont Blanc. In St Francois Longchamp 1450, spectacular hoodoos can be admired.

Km 107.5

Col de la Madeleine

The 2,000-metres high Madeleine pass links the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys. It is a classic Tour de France ascent as the peloton rode it 23 times since 1969. Lucien Van Impe and Richard Virenque both were first at the top three times, which tells how hard a climb it is. From la Lechere, the average declivity is 6.4 pc over 24.5 km. When, the Tour last climbed La Madeleine, in 2018, Julian Alaphilippe was first at the top in his quest for the polka-dot jersey.

Km 116.5

La Léchère (Pop: 2,600)

In the heart of the Tarentaise valleys near the old village of Aigueblanche, the spa of La Lechere was launched in the early 20th century. It is ideally located close to the biggest ski resorts of the region. The commune was created in 1972 from the fusion of the villages of Notre-Dame-de-Briancon, Pussy, Celliers, Petit Cœur, Doucy and Naves. Occupied since the Roman era, the area thrived in the Middle-Ages thanks to the castle of Notre-Dame de Briancon controlling one of the most strategic valleys of the Alps. In the mid-19th century, chemical industry developed until the discovery in 1899 of the waters making the town’s wealth and reputation today. In1992, La Lechere hosted the main press centre of the 1992 Winter Olympics. The Games were an ideal opportunity to create modern facilities.  

Château de Briançon
Overlooking a gorge of the river Isere, the castle watched over the road to Moutiers and the mountain passes of Petit and Grand St Bernard. The origins of the castles are as ancient as those of the family owning it. In 1276, count Philip of Savoy took over the castle, which was handed to Gaspard of Montmayeur in 1392. At the death of the last Montmayeur a century later, the Duke of Savoy claimed it back before selling in to Beatrice of Viseu in 1528. Fortifications were built against the French, who however seized the castle in 1536. In the next 150 years, it was torn apart between Savoy and France before being almost entirely demolished by France’s Marshall de Catinat in 1690. Very few remnants are left today of the once famous castle, except its imposing square keep.

Km 138.5

Aigueblanche (3 000 hab.)

Aigueblanche (white waters) takes its name from the hectic waters of the Morel, today channeled into a beautiful waterfall. In the prayers of the Tarentaise, we used to say: "My god, protect me from the waters of Morel, Mandrin (famous brigand) and his bandits". Today the Morel is a peaceful mountain torrent, one of the wonders of the Alps, according to experts. Yet for centuries it was one of the most formidable torrents in Savoy. Men had to display ardour and ingenuity to protect themselves from its ravages. A colossal one-kilometer dyke was necessary to contain them. Today, a pleasant walking path has been built along the stream.
Among the architectural heritage, two old fortified houses, the manor of Aigueblanche (13th century), in the centre of the town, and the fortified house of Bellecombe (14th) on the road to Moûtiers. But also the beautiful baroque church of Saint-Martin de Villargerel, listed since 1943.

Km 141

Moûtiers (3 600 hab.)

At the foot of the mountain road leading to the ski resort of Courchevel, Meribel, Valmorel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens, Moutiers became a bishop see in the Middle-Ages and retained a cathedral and a bishop palace. During the Renaissance, salt production became its main resource before another white powder secured its wealth with the ski craze of the 1960s. Several world class skiers hail from Moutiers (Michel Vion, Alexis Pinturault, Julien Lizeroux…)  Moûtiers was the start of a Tour de France twice, in 1973 (victory by Luis Ocana in Les Orres) and in 1994 (victory by Piotr Ugrumov in Cluses). In 2018, on the Dauphiné, a stage from Moûtiers was won by Adam Yates in Saint-Gervais.  

Saint-Pierre cathedral
Cathedral of the former diocese of Tarentaise, it has undergone many transformations over the centuries. The result is a composite architecture reflecting successive reconstructions. Christianity was organised in Tarentaise at the beginning of the 5th century. It is from this period that the first cathedral probably dates, whose history left no traces. On the same site, several buildings succeeded each other until the 11th century. They then called on Lombard master masons. These craftsmen from northern Italy were going to make a name for themselves from the shores of the Mediterranean to England or Germany for some. The architecture includes a Romanesque choir from the 11th century, Gothic facades from the 15th century and neo-classical naves. Among the many artistic works, two remarkable life-size polychrome sculpted groups, including a 16th century burial.

Km 147

Brides-les-Bains (Pop: 510)

Spa town linked to the 3 Valleys by a gondola, Brides-les-Bains combines skiing with its mountain wellness services. The 600 kilometres of slopes offer itinerant pleasure skiing for all levels. Spa resort, leader in weight loss in France, it is a village where care and dietetics combine to obtain results. With its recently renovated and enlarged thermal spa, Brides is a year-round bubble of well-being at the gates of the Vanoise National Park.
Site of the Olympic Village during the Albertville Games in 1992, Brides-les-Bains was able to take advantage of new infrastructure to develop. In 2019, Brides-les-Bains was the starting point for a stage uphill from the Tour de l'Avenir to Méribel, captured by Australian Alexander Evans.

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