Hotels mit Charme in Rhône-Alpes, Frankreich
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Rhône-Alps is located in the east of France. To the north the regions of Burgundy (Bourgogne) and Franche-Comté; to the west, the Auvergne, including the start of the Massif Central mountain range; and to the south it borders the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The highest peak is Mont Blanc – which the Italians claim as their own. The region also borders or contains major lakes such as Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and Lake Annecy. The Ardèche is home to the deepest gorge in Europe. Many of the inhabitants of the south speak varieties of Occitan (of which Catalan is an offshoot).
On all the main trade routes, since the dawn of history, the Rhone-Alps region has always been a melting pot of people and cultures which accounts for the wealth of its heritage. Continental in places, alpine in others and Mediterranean elsewhere, the geography of the region gives visitors a diversity of landscapes unmatched in the rest of France.
It is one of the most scenic areas of France with dense forests, lush pasture land, huge lakes, deep gorges and spectacular mountains. The French Alps, dominated by the Mont Blanc, form the border between Switzerland and Italy to the east of this region. The stunning landscape and the challenge of the peaks have long drawn climbers and walkers in the summer, and winter sports enthusiasts in the winter. Chamonix, both a ski resort and mountain climbing centre, is where the Mont Blanc Tunnel runs through the Alps to provide a direct link between France and Italy.
Megève, Morzine and Val d'Isère, enjoy an international reputation in snow sports, as do the spa towns of Aix-les-Bains, Thonon and Evian, both situated on the south shore of Lake Geneva. Gastronomy A traditional snack in the bistros of Lyon is “machon”, a salad of potatoes, lentils, or dandelion leaves and bacon with garlic sausage, slices of brawn, “cevelas truffé” – a lightly cured pork sausage with truffles, served with jugs of Beaujolais.Gastronomy here is hearty and varied, drawing on local produce, onions, fruit and vegetables and a wide range of charcuterie as well as beef from Charolais, poultry from Bresse and freshwater fish and game from Dombes. Butter, cream, milk and cheese, dominate the Alpine area of the Savoy. Fish from lakes and mountain streams, game from the forests and mushrooms from the woods – a unique habitat in Europe.
The orchards are planted with cherry, apple, pear and walnut trees – and strawberries and raspberries are plentiful in the glades. Soups are made with sorrel, pumpkins, nettles or leeks, as well as with cheese. The rivers provide resources for a number of Savoyard dishes, fricassé of frog’s legs with garlic, onions and vinegar, perch with red wine, quenelles. Casseroles made with pork knuckles, sausages, stockpot vegetables and chestnuts, chicken with crayfish and gratins, using cep mushrooms, leeks, cardoons and marrows, and cheese.
The great cheeses of the region include, Beaufort, Reblochon, Tommes de Bonneville, Boudane, matured in grape marc brandy and Tamié, made by Trappist monks.
History Although there have been people in Rhône-Alps since pre-historic times, the earliest recorded settlers of the region were the Celts. Cities such as Lyon (Lugdunum in Latin after the Celtic God Lugh) were founded by them and the region traded with both northern and southern Europe. Most of the area became part of Roman territory during the invasion of Gaul led by Julius Caesar and was at various times part of the regions of Lugdunensis and Gallia. This prosperous era left its mark on most of the region’s cities, especially Lyon, where the Fourvière Roman Archeological Site was opened to the public in 1933. The Middle Ages saw the strengthening of royal authority over the Rhône Valley, while the Counts of Savoy became the guardians of the higher Alps and the “Dauphins” ruled over Dauphiné. At the same time, new abbeys and monasteries were founded throughout the region. Savoie was united with the Italian region of Piedmont to form the Dukedom of Savoy. In 1481, King Louis XI inherited Savoie, ushering in a long period during which the area was alternately under the rule of France, Savoie – and even Spain for eight years. Savoy was returned to the French crown in 1748, and a few decades later its chief city, Lyon, resisted the forces of the Revolution, facing reprisals as a result. In 1815, Savoie became the property of King Victor-Emmanuel I of Sardinia, but in an 1860 plebiscite gave overwhelming approval to the proposal of union with France.
Culture You get an idea of the Rhône–Alps cultural heritage by examining its main cities:
• Lyon. Since the Middle Ages, the region’s capital has been a major crossroads for trade routes between northern and southern Europe.
• Saint-Etienne. The city has transformed its former coal mining industry into textile, high-precision mechanics, electronics and food processing activities.
• Grenoble. The economic and cultural capital of the French Alps is a growing and dynamic city.
• Valence. Now a stop of the TGV rail line from Paris to Marseille, this city owes its development to its location in the Rhône Basin.
• Chambéry. The center of savoyard life, it became the capital of the Dukes of Savoy in 1232.
• Annecy. Lakeside city that also boasts a river and a canal, and (not surprisingly) is called “the Venice of Savoie”.
• Bourg-en-Bresse. Pronounced “Bourk,” the capital of Bresse has blended traditional and modern industries to create a thriving city.
• Roanne. It is France’s best-known textile centre for ready-to-wear garments, hosiery, knitted goods and linens.
• Villefranche-sur-Saône. This medieval city has become a busy industrial and commercial centre and the capital of the Beaujolais vineyards.
• Vienne. The gateway to the Dauphiné area, the city claims a Roman temple and a spectacular Gothic cathedral.
• Albertville. The facilities built for the 1992 Winter Olympics have been converted into leisure parks.
• Aubenas. Perched on a rocky spur, this lovely town has a 12th-century castle facing impressive 16th-century houses.
• Privas. Its magnificent bridge, the Pont Louis XIII, spans the Ouvèze River. It’s the administrative capital of the Ardèche département.
Activities Markets in all towns and villages throughout the region on different days. Excellent fly- fishing, angling and casting, in the lakes, rivers and mountain streams for char, trout, pike, pike-perch, carp. Rafting in the Ardèche and at Bourg St-Maurice in the Alpes. Exceptional golf courses everywhere. Several spas where you can relax. Walking, hiking, riding, cycling and mountain biking through wild and natural country.
Routes are well signposted and topographical maps available in larger towns. Potholing in the Vercors. The mountains, glaciers, canyons and gorges draw climbers from everywhere. There are beginners schools run by seasoned mountaineers, and experienced guides. For skiers, there are numerous runs to choose from throughout the Rhone-Alpes with excellent facilities. Most of the stations have a good range of après-ski entertainment; swimming pools, skating rinks, trekking, snowshoe expeditions, night skiing, paragliding, activities for children, nightclubs, restaurants, concerts. Cross-country skiing in the Vercors Regional Natural Park, in the Haute-Savoie and the southern Jura.
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