Population: 1.2 millions
Surface: 7,500 km2
Specialties: Grenoble walnut (AOP), cheese (Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage, Saint Marcellin), wines (Coteaux du Grésivaudan, Balmes Dauphinoises, Collines Rhodaniennes), Chartreuse (liquor), trout Vercors, Alpine meat (beef, lamb), antesite (drink), gratin dauphinois, brioche of Bourgoin, ravioles in Romans, murçon (charcuterie)…
Sport clubs: GF38 (football), FC Grenoble (rugby union), CS Bourgoin-Jallieu (rugby union), Les bruleurs de loups (ice hockey), Les ours de Villard (ice hockey), Rugby Sassenage Isère (women’s rugby union)
Competitions: Foulée Blanche (Nordic skiing), Coupe Icare (Free flight), Trail des passerelles du Monteynard (trail), Echappée Belle (trail), UT4M (trail), Rhône Alpe Isère Tour (cycling), semi-marathon Grenoble Vizille (running)
Festivals: Rencontres Brel, Jazz à Vienne, International Comedy Film in l'Alpe d’Huez, Mountain Film Festival in Autrans, Revolutionary fêtes in Vizille, cabaret Frappé
Economy: electronics, microelectronics, digital industry and software, medical technologies, chemistry and environment, energies…
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.isere.fr / facebook.com/isere.le.departement / twitter.com/CDIsere / instagram.com/isere.le.departement
SÉCHILIENNE (Pop: 1 100)
The village is renowned for a phenomenon known as the Ruines of Sechilienne, a gigantic fell on the side of the Mount Sec threatening to collapse in the valley underneath. After alarmist speculations, scientists decided there was no real cause for worry even if the evolution of the fell is checked constantly. Another ruin can be seen in Sechilienne, that of the castle once belonging to the Alleman family. Built in the 13th century, it was restored in the 19th. Burnt in 1944, it is ruined but the main tower is in good condition.
Fédération de pêche de la Drôme
VIZILLE (Pop: 7,700)
An important spot on the road between Grenoble and Italy, the site became Castra Vigiliae when the Romans built a vigil post in the place of a Gaul fortress. Belonging to the Cluny Abbey in the Middle Ages, it was taken by the Huguenots in the 16th century, then by the Catholics. Lesdiguieres, appointed general lieutenant of Dauphine, bought and rebuilt the castle.
On July 21, 1788, the Vizille Assembly brought together 50 priests, 165 aristocrats and 276 representatives of the people to express their complaints against the rulers. The Assembly was often seen as a foretaste of the French Revolution but it was mostly a protest by the wealthy against a new tax system.
Climber Thierry Claveyrolat, who won the polka-dot jersey in 1990, was dubbed “the Vizille eagle”.
Vizille domain and castle
The domain includes the castle that once belonged to the Duke of Lesdiguieres and which became a residence for French presidents until it was handed back to the Isere Department. Since 1984, the castle is home to a museum on the French Revolution. The gardens used to be the Duke of Lesdiguieres hunting ground.
GRENOBLE (Pop: 160,000)
A Tour de France stage since 1905, Grenoble holds a special place in the history of the race. In 1919, a new ceremony took place by which Eugene Christophe received a yellow jersey to distinguish him as the Tour leader. The event was greeted by a ten lines story in l’Auto. Since then, more than 300 riders have held the yellow jersey.
Bur Grenoble was also the last stronghold in France of Six Day Racing, a track event once very popular which disappeared gradually. The last time the Tour stopped in Stendhal’s hometown was in 2014. It was the start of a stage to Risoul, which saw Rafal Majka clinch the day’s honours. The list of stage winners in Grenoble is ample proof of its importance in the history of cycling: Jean Robic, Charly Gaul, Federico Bahamontes, Eddy Merckx, Roger Pingeon or Bernard Thevenet.
The Dauphine Parliament Palace
The building dates, for its oldest part, from the late 15th century. Home of the Dauphine Parliament until the Revolution, it became a Court of Justice until 2002.
The Dauphine Parliament was in 1453 the third parliament created in France after Paris and Toulouse. Belonging to the Isere department, the building will be converted for commercial, university and tourist activities.
St Andre collegial church
Dating from the early 13th century, it is one of the first Gothic buildings of the city. It has housed since 1822 the mausoleum of the Knight Bayard, who died in 1524. The church was built in the heart of the city from 1228 on orders by Dauphin Guigues V, who wished to establish his power in front of the bishop’s.
It is a 19th century fort set at an altitude of 476 metres on the foothills of the Chartreuse massif and overlooking Grenoble by 264 metres. Reachable by lift, the Bastille, which gave its name to the hill on which it stands, is the most visited site in Grenoble.
Risques naturels : Séchilienne
The relief is the result of a battle between the tectonics that lift the mountains and the erosion that flattens them. Erosion is sometimes caused by large collapses that disrupt landscapes, blocking a valley for example, creating dams that lead to the installation of a lake, until it breaks, devastating every thing downstream. The Séchilienne region is an example for such processes.
MNHN – Patrick De Wever, professeur
SASSENAGE (Pop: 11,200)
Nestled at the foot of the Vercors cliffs, Sassenage is a charming city which preserved its village atmosphere. Its rich history left three castles, one of which became the town hall, and an important religious heritage as well as a great natural environment including the “Cuves de Sassenage”, caves in which the fairy Melusina was said to have found shelter.
Le château de Sassenage
Only ten minutes from Grenoble, the chateau de Sassenage stands at the foot of the Vercors in the purity of its classical architecture. Built in the 17th century by Charles Louis Alphonse de Sassenage, the castle is the last of three constructed by the powerful lords of Sassenage. Designed by Valence architect Laurent Sommaire, it reflects the luxurious way of life of the time.
Cuves de Sassenage
Amidst preserved natural environment and wildlife, the Cuves de Sassenage cave offers a great view over Grenoble and the limpid waters of the Furon before entering the magical and quietness of the underground world. In the heart of the Nature Park of Vercors, the cave is a haven of peace in the Grenoble urban agglomeration.
VEUREY-VOROIZE (Pop: 1,400)
The small town is home to the headquarters of regional newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré, founder and for long organisers of the Critierium du Dauphine. In 1981, Veurey was the start of a Tour de France stage won in St Priest by Belgium’s Daniel Willems.
COGNIN-LES-GORGES (Pop: 640)
Close to the picturesque gorges of the Nan and the spectacular narrow road leading to it, Cognin-les-Gorges retains the oldest walnut dryer of the region (18th century). The listed monument is a reminder that the region, and especially the nearby Gresivaudan valley are production areas for the famous walnut of Grenoble, which is protected by an AOC.
PONT-EN ROYANS (Pop: 800)
With its colourful houses clinging to a cliff, Pont-en-Royans has a long and rich history. It used to have three castles. The first one stood where the fortified old town now stands. The second was the vestige still visible on the hill overlooking the village. The third, built in the 17th and 18th centuries, was destroyed by bombings in 1945 and has been replaced by the current college. Four gates remain from the old rampart. The village and its picturesque houses still attracts tourists every summer on the banks of the river Bourne. In the 19th century, the village was especially renowned thanks to the roads dug in the rocks of the Vercors massif which were a real construction feat for the time.
LANDSCAPE OF THE DAY
The emblematic Maurienne cols
A transitional landscape between the majestic limestone plateaux of Vercors and the Valley of Isère, this vast plain heralds the Rhone valley. Running along the edges of Vercors, we pass the foot of the protected landscapes of Grands Goulets and Combe Laval, with their imposing scenery of remote karstic terrain and gorges. The Bas-Grésivaudan and Bas-Royans plain is home to a key natural resource: nut cultivation. An entire plain transformed into a living orchard, and a truly rare landscape!
Sub-prefectures : Die, Nyons
Surface: 6,530 km2
Specialities: fruit, lavender, wines, olive, chestnut, cheese (Picodon, Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage, Banon…)
Sport clubs: Drôme HandBall Bourg-de-Péage, Valence HandBall, Team Drôme BMX, Saint Vallier Basket Drôme
Competitions: Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, Drôme Classic (UCI Europe Tour), Corima Drôme Provençale (granfondo), Drômoise (granfondo), Raid VTT les chemins du soleil (Marathon X Country international)
Festivals: Fêtes nocturnes de Grignan, Crest Jazz Vocal, Saoû sings Mozart.
Economy: leather and luxury, food industry, transport and logistics…
Tourist sites: Crocodile farm (Pierrelatte), château de Grignan, Ideal Palace of the postman Cheval (Hauterives)
Websites / FB : www.ladrome.fr / www.ladrometourisme.com / www.facebook.com/ladromeledepartement
SAINT-NAZAIRE-EN ROYANS (Pop: 800)
The aqueduct of St Nazaire en Royans (235 metres in length and 35 metres in height) was built between 1876 and 1878 to bring irrigation water into the Valence plains thanks to a canal network of 118 km. Still in function, Canal de la Bourne still produces 7 m3 of water per second. At the foot of the aqueduct, a museum retraces the history of the construction of the canal. A lift takes visitors to the top of the bridge, offering a panoramic view on the village, the Bourne valley and the hillsides of Vercors.
Cruise on the river
From Saint-Marcellin to Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans, the river Isere displays a landscape quite similar to the Mississippi bayous on which a paddle steamer glides quietly. The cruise is perfect to discover the wildlife and the architecture of the small villages of La Sone and St Nazaire, the two boarding spots. The cruise is commented by the crew and stops are made at the Thais cave.
ROCHEFORT-CHAMSON (Pop: 1,010)
The village had its golden age in the late 1970s with the Rochefort-Samson Cycling 24 Hours, an amateur relay race with a national impact. Several television stars or artists took part in the race, among them former ski Olympic champion Jean-Claude Killy, who later chaired ASO, the Tour de France organisers. Every year in February takes place the St Blaise fair during which the locals eat buns, cheese and drink white wine.
CHABEUIL (Pop: 3,140)
In the Middle Ages, Chabeuil belonged to the Prince or Royans, Ismidon II, then to Guidelin, who went to the Crusades with many knights of the region in 1188. His son Gontard gave his name to the hill overlooking Chabeuil: les Gontardes. In 1349, the Dauphine area became French.
At the start of the French Revolution, Chabeuil was chosen as the prefecture of Drome, but it was moved to Valence in 1790. The Valence airport is located on the Chabeuil territory.
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