Rhône-Alpes: the middle world
Halfway between Paris and the Cote d’Azur, among the plains, valleys, rivers, lakes and mountains, one of the most diverse regions of France, Rhone-Alpes, perfectly settled. Here is the center of France; and at the same time here is its land, because it is in the Rhone-Alps that the state border passes. Or rather, just two Alpine borders – France shares the local mountains with Italy and Switzerland.
Here flows one of the largest rivers in France – the Rhone; here huge lakes froze along which it is perfectly possible to travel: Lake Bourget, Lake Annecy and a piece of the famous Lake Geneva (which in France is called Lake Leman).
Where the two great French rivers, the Rhone and the Saone, merge into one, there was one small Gallic tribe. But once, from somewhere in the south, Roman legions appeared, carrying eagles and armed to the teeth; The Gauls made room under the pressure of the Romans, and in 43 BC, the Roman colony of Lungdunum was born on the site of a modest Gallic village. And since then, life here, in the city of Lyon, the capital of the region, has never stopped.
And life here has always been very active – Lyon, a city full of energy and entrepreneurial spirit, was in many ways the first. For example, it was here in the middle of the second century that the first Christian church in all of France was built; the first book in French was printed here. True, Lyon, full of weaving mills, was also the city of the world’s first organized protests of the proletariat, which went down in history as the uprising of Lyon weavers … Fortunately, this page of the history of the city remained in the past, in the thirties of the nineteenth century. And today Lyon is one of the richest, bourgeois, respectable and at the same time beautiful and interesting cities of France. And in the Rhone-Alpes region, Lyon is generally the most important.
Fragments of what the Romans had built were very organically combined with medieval basilicas and simply whole old quarters, whose narrow streets, closely lined with wonderful ancient houses, filled with charming shops and amazing restaurants, climb up to the high city hills, where once began the city of Lyon.
From the hill of La Croix-Russ you can go downstairs without getting wet in the rain and not overheated in the heat, because the local streets, trabuls are not streets, but covered walkways, for some reason, a bit like the old city in Jerusalem.
A couple of hours by car, direction – to the east. And now you are almost in the Alps, in the city of Grenoble. Here, as well as in Lyon, two rivers also merge, only smaller – Isere and Drak. And Grenoble itself – it is much smaller than Lyon, although it is considered the capital, but only – alpine.
Grenoble and Lyon are of the same age: both here and there the Romans appeared in the same 43 BC. And in Grenoble, before the arrival of the imperial legions, other people also lived – here was the settlement of Kularo, in which the tribe of allobrogov lived. And the Romans gave the city a much more magnificent name – Gratianopolis. However, such a long name eventually turned into Grenoble – into a name that now does not resemble the emperor Flavia Gratian, who once turned a modest tribal settlement into the center of the province and gave him his imperial name.
When religious wars raged in France, Grenoble was captured by the Huguenots — and the Protestants, led by the Duke Lesdigier, were surrounded by a safe fortress wall. The Protestants generally built a lot of things here – with them, Grenoble grew noticeably, increasing almost threefold.
In short, in Grenoble there is something to see – so in vain some people perceive this city only as the airport closest to the ski resorts. In Grenoble you should definitely stay for at least two or three days. Climbing up the hill above the bank of the Isera – a fort with the sinister name of Bastille is preserved: that’s how – in Paris, the Bastille is no more, and here, in Grenoble – here it is, my dear, rises above the city in all its walls.
During the Second World War, the city and its environs were the refuge of particularly desperate and invincible Resistance fighters. And the elusive fighters – still: once they go into the mountains – and who will find them there?
Mountains … Who in the ancient province of Dauphin could imagine for just a second that it is the mountains that will become one of the main treasures in the distant future? Once, shepherds wandered here – now in the place of the former poor pastures and poor stone houses a fashionable Courchevel appeared. And not only Courchevel – the Alps are full of beautiful ski resorts – Chamonix, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Val d’Isere … Two hundred twenty ski stations, trails with a total length of more than six thousand kilometers – it is possible that it is here, in the Rhône Alps , we were in the ski paradise, and in the largest in the world! It is clear why in winter the whole world is pulling up to the local lands. Yes, only in the summer snow lies only on the highest and most distant peaks.