The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region was created in 2016 as a result of a merge and is the third largest in metropolitan France. With a population of over 7million, it comprises of 12 “departements” - Ain, Allier, Ardèche, Cantal, Drôme, Haute-Loire, Haute-Savoie, Isère, Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Savoie. There are a number of large cities in the region including the gastronomic capital Lyon along with Grenabloe, Annecy and Clermont-Ferrande. Sites and places to visit include Lac d’Annecy, Lyon, Les gorges de L’ Ardèche and Chamonix - you can read more fun facts about these areas in this blog. There are also a few recipes for the region's culinary delights!
Starting with the Capital Lyon:
Lyon is the birthplace of cinematograph picture cameras, which was invented by the Lumiere Brothers in 1895
Lugdunum (Lyon) was once the capital of Gaule (France) for more than 300 years
This city is a World Heritage site and can take days to get through
Every year in December, the city has a four day festival "festival of lights" (a must-see!)
What does Lyon have in common with New York? Both cities feature statues designed by the same sculptor. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who created the Statue of Liberty, also designed the Fontaine Bartholdi, which can be found in Lyon’s Place des Terreaux
Another place to visit is Lac d'Annecy
Formed about 18,000 years ago, it is the third largest lake in France
Cradled by forested peaks, this lake also claims to be the cleanest lake in Europe. (This is down to a clean-up campaign that started in the 50s and imposes ultra-strict environmental regulations).
You can cycle or walk the trail around the lake’s perimeter, swim or hang out on the beach.
Vessels of all types are available for rental, and if you’ve ever been curious about trying wake-boarding, there won’t be more beautiful location to take the plunge!
All about the cheese - Five of Auvergne’s cheeses have got protected geographic status, more than any other region in France.
These are the strong Bleu d’Auvergne, the nutty Saint-Nectaire, mild and smooth Fourme d’Ambert and Cantal, which varies depending on its age.
Tourist offices in the region can give you all the information about the various farms and dairies on the “Route des Fromages”, and if you’re in doubt you can just follow the signposts.
There are more than 40 stops and each one is assessed each year to make sure that it explains cheese-making clearly and allows you to taste cheeses of the highest quality.
Les Gorges de l’Ardèche
In the very south of the region is a spellbinding river gorge,
with mammoth limestone walls guarding 32 kilometres of the Ardèche River.
Les Gorges de l’Ardèche is locally known as the "European Grand Canyon".
In places the cliffs climb to more than 300 metres, and you can either hit the gorge’s dusty trail to track down the most spectacular lookouts, or rent a canoe for two days and camp overnight under the stars.
There’s a suitably grand entranceway to this epic landscape at the Pont d’Arc, a natural arch that will make you feel like you’re passing into a fantasy world, which isn’t far from the truth really.
Chamonix - Aiguille du Midi
You can get to Aiguille du Midi, a peak 3,842 metres above sea level, without ever needing to lace up your hiking boots.
There’s a record-breaking cable car running, from Chamonix up to the summit, stopping only once, at Plan d’Aiguille at 2,317 metres where you’ll transfer onto a different line.
The 2,807-metre climb is the highest ascent by a cable car in the world.
Once you arrive, you’ll take the lift up to the terrace to gaze across to Mont Blanc.
It’s the closest you can get to Europe’s highest mountain without climbing it.
You can also get a meal at 3,842 metres or brave the skywalk, a glass box with a 1,000-metre drop directly beneath your feet.
Finally, here are a couple of recipes for the region:
Gratin dauphinois is a French dish of sliced potatoes baked in milk, from the Dauphiné region in south-east France. There are many variants of the name of the dish, including pommes de terre dauphinoise, potatoes à la dauphinoise and gratin de pommes à la dauphinoise.
The first mention of the dish is from 12 July 1788. It was served with ortolans at a dinner given by Charles-Henri, duke of Clermont-Tonnerre and Lieutenant-general of the Dauphiné, for the municipal officials of the town of Gap, now in the département of Hautes-Alpes.