centered on France's second city, Lyon, is one of the larger regions in
France, encompassing eight departments. With its three main cities,
, Grenoble and St. Etienne, plus the area that includes the French
suburbs of the Swiss city of Geneva, Rhone-Alpes is not only one of the
largest regions in France, but also one of the more properous
includes all or a large part of different historic areas, including the
Savoy and the Dauphiné, as well as a small northern part of
known as "Drome Provençal". It stretches from the plains of
in the north, to the lower reaches of the Rhone, in the south; and from
the highest peaks of the Alps, on the Italian border in the east, to
beyond the Loire in the west. It has international borders with
Switzerland and Italy, and lies astride the main lines of communication
from northern and central France to these two countries.
of the Rhone Alpes region
The eight departments of the
Rhone-alpes region are, from northwest to southeast: the
department (69), around and to the north of Lyon, the Ain (01) in the
northeast, including the Bresse plain and the southern part of the
Jura; the Haute Savoie (74) and Savoie (73), two Alpine departments;
the Loire (42) to the east of Lyon, the Isère (38)
stretching from the
Italian border almost to Lyon, the Ardèche, (07), the dry
of the Massif Central, and the Drôme (26), mostly made up of
southwestern foothills of the Alps.
Diversity of Rhône-Alpes region :
The region's identity is defined on
the one hand by the river Rhone and its tributaries, and by the other
hand by its Alpine uplands. The Rhône enters France at
a twisting course as far as Lyon
, then heads due south towards the
Mediterranean. From Lyon to the Mediterranean, the Rhone valley is one
of Europe's major historic lines of communication, the shortest
historic route between north and south, avoiding a crossing of the Alps
or a large detour.
The area has a mixed economy:
Lyon is traditionally a centre for the petrochemical and pharmaceutical
industries, though also a major centre for service industries. Grenoble
is one of the most important high-tech cities in France, a city which
boomed in the high-tech revolution, when start-ups and international
firms such as Hewlett Packard were attracted by the city's attractive
location at the foot of the Alps. And in the northeast of the region,
there lies a very prosperous area made up of the French suburbs of
Geneva and the resorts on the southern shores of Lake Geneva.
By contrast, St. Etienne is
one of France's great industrial cities, with an economy based on coal
and steel. The area around St. Etienne is an industrial heartland; and
although the mines have closed, some heavy industry still survives.
The northern departments of the Rhone
Alpes region are relatively prosperous agricultural areas; but in the
three main Alpine departments, the rural economy is heavily dependent
on tourism, both in summer and winter. These Alpine departments boast
many of the most popular, most accessible and most prestigious ski areas in France
The hilly country of the Drome and Ardèche departments does
not offer a
lot of good agricultural land, except in the valleys, where fruit and
vegetables used to be a major industry; but in recent years, both these
industries have suffered on account of cheaper imports from southern
Europe. The Ardèche is a particularly dry department,
northernmost expanses of classic Mediterranean hinterland, "garrigue"
or arid hills covered in scrub and coarse vegetation.
to Rhone Alpes:
(direct TGV) from Paris Gare de Lyon or from
Brussels, and other cities. Lyon is just 2hrs by TGV train from Paris.
from the UK: the easiest way is to cross to Calais, then drive down the
motorway via Rheims and Dijon, avoiding Paris.
Access by plane
: Lyon St.
has good connections throughout Europe, and is a hub
for Easyjet. There are also airports with flights from the UK in
Grenoble and Chambéry. Just outside the region (just a
the French border), Geneva Cointrin airport has a wide range
of international and intercontinental flights.
of the main tourist attractions
in the Rhône-Alpes region