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Close to Grenoble and the Massif de l'Oisans, on the famous "Route Napoléon", the "Domaine départemental de Vizille" gathers on the same location a prestigious natural and cultural patrimony : the castle, its gardens, the French Revolution museum and the animals park.
In 1984, the French Revolution museum opened. It reminds not only how the French Revolution began here in 1788 and spread in 1789 to Paris and the whole country but also it shows all the cultural, social and political changes that occurred at the end of the XVIIIth century all over Europe. The library owns more than 20,000 books than can be used by researchers, students and anybody interested in the history of that dramatic and exciting period.
B.P. 1753 - 38220 Vizille
Tél : 04.76.68.07.35. - Fax : 04.76.68.08.53.
Opening of the park (free) :
Every day except Tuesdays and the 1st of May.
March through May and September through October : 9h-19h
June through August : 9h-20h.
November through February : 10h-17h.
Museum and castle :
Every day except Tuesdays, the 1st of May Christmas and New Year's day..
April through October : 10h-17h
November through March : 10h-17h
Written Apr 20, 2005
Saint Hilaire du Touvet plateau can be reached easily by an impressing 80 years old "funiculaire" in perfect condition, that starts in the valley and brings you in 20 minutes on the plateau, 700 m higher. It is the steepest railway of Europe (83%).
For more on the Funiculaire, visit their web site.
On the "Plateau des Petites Roches", you can hike on one of the numerous trails with an outstanding landscape. But this is also the best taking off ground in Europe for free flight, paragliding, etc
Every year, an International Festival, the Icarus cup takes place for 4 days with 80,000 visitors, 8,000 pilots. The 32nd edition will take place in 2005 from september 22nd through 25th
Cost: 2 day pass €5; gala night €6
Borroughed from the Coupe Icare web site :
The Icare Festival in Saint-Hilaire du Touvet, now in its 30th year, offers an incredible variety of vehicles in which to travel by air. From the humble paper plane to the hot-air balloon, anything that relies on the whims of nature to fly is represented.
Created in 1974, the Coupe Icare (Icarus Cup) is the oldest 'free flight' manifestation in the world. It assembles more than 7000 para and hang-gliders from all over the world. During the event the 1,300 inhabitants of the village see the population increase 20 times over for four days!
Many different competitions and activities are on show. Some are educational, like the children's village, while others such as the aerial acrobatics and hot air balloons are spectacular. Then there's the crazy and much celebrated aerial disguises...
The competition for the best disguise is undoubtedly the highpoint of the Coupe Icare. It is both funny and poetic, giving full rein to the most extravagant ideas. A flying Eiffel Tower four metres high, a dragonfly six metres long, etc. Whether they are individual or team efforts, the disguises are prepared months before. There is no limit to participants' imagination, but always the nagging question, "Will it fly?"
Updated Apr 22, 2005
Meylan, La Tronche, Corenc and Montbonnot-Saint-Martin
In my Meylan page, I will present mostly Meylan but also neighboring cities of La Tronche, Corenc and Montbonnot-Saint-Martin.
Meylan and Montbonnot-Saint-Martin are now developped at the bottom of the valley though the ancient villages were on the slopes, out of reach of the Isère floods. La Tronche and Corenc have both remained entirely on the slopes of the Chartreuse massif. The Mont Saint Eynard with its fort is on the limit of these communities.
These cities in the close neighbourhood of Grenoble have always been residential locations. When a one hour horse or carriage ride was necessary to reach Meylan or La Tronche, wealthy citizens had for summer a country mansion in these remote places. Now that they are reached by bus or car in a dozen of minutes, everybody wants to live there as it is the less polluted part of the valley and has more green spaces. Meylan had 1074 inhabitants in 1946, 19,000 now.
Meylan is twinned since 1986 with Gonzales (Louisiana) in the USA, 1988 with Planegg (Bavaria) in Germany and since 1999 with Didcot in England.
During the past thirty years, Meylan, the first and more recently Montbonnot-Saint-Martin have developed a district called ZIRST (for Zone industrielle de Recherche Scientifique et Technique = Industrial zone for scientific and technical research). That means that the ZIRST has built 2/3 levels buildings ready for rent to small, new companies in electronics, informatics, metrology and other high technology fields. Larger companies have bought land and have now buildings of their own, often developing an interesting architecture. They are the one I will show here.
This ZIRST has often been called the French Silicon Valley. On the 15th of April 2005, the unpronounceable ZIRST has become Inovallée, for Innovation Valley and with an evident wink to Silicon Valley.
Written Apr 20, 2005
The campus of Grenoble is built mostly in the city of Saint Martin d'Hères and for a small part on the neighboring city of Gières.
Saint Martin d'Hères (SMH) is not only a campus but on my page I will present only that part of the city. Moreover, I will present here all what is connected with the University, let it be in SMH or elsewhere in the Grenoble area.
A CENTRE OPEN TO THE WORLD
6,000 foreign students
3,200 students registered for French as a foreign language courses
Thousands of foreign executives
2 international secondary schools
40 foreign communities
150 cultural and international associations
more than 80 countries in contact with Grenoble research teams (of which 80% in EU countries and North America).
B Grenoble, an international research venueThese international networks ? the fruit of each establishment's past and their bonds with other academic bodies ? are organized through European student mobility programmes and bilateral and multilateral agreements.
The agreements cover the exchange of students, researchers and teachers, and joint teaching programmes such as dual degrees and co-tutored theses. They cover every area of science. The diversity of the student population attending Grenoble universities reflects their international dimension, hosting more than 6,000 foreign students, who account for 10% of the total student body.
C A favourable context for learning languagesEighteen languages are taught in Grenoble universities (German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, English, Spanish, Dutch, Rumanian, Arab, Modern Greek, Portughese, Serbo-Croate, Catalan, Italian, Polish, Czech.
In the middle of the campus Maison des Langues et des Cultures offers all students complete courses and separate modules, in classes or for self-learning.
Updated Apr 20, 2005
The "Cuves de Sassenage" (the Sassenage cisterns) are one of the seven marvels of the Dauphiné. They are a cave in which flows a strong torrent, the Furon. It has been shown that they were the bottom of the famous Gouffre Berger, one of the deepest in the world but no man connection has been made between both. The opening is in the city of Sassenage ans can be reached easily from down town Grenoble, by the tram. The legend says that the fairy Mélusine is hiding in the caves. The name of "Cuves" comes from the several "Marmites de géant" (potholes) carved by the torrent.
Open every day except Mondays from April 1st to October 31st.
In July and August guided visits from 10h to 18h.
For more on the Cuves de Sassenage, visit the web site of the Office du Tourisme.
Updated Apr 22, 2005
The Gouffre Berger is not open to tourists but to advanced speleologists. Here are the recommendations for descending the Gouffre Berger (June 1st to 31st October)
Due to its reknown, depth and beauty the Gouffre Berger attracts many visitors. The cave presents no major difficulties under normal conditions, especially in the upper half, giving it its reputation as an "easy cave". The cave is nonetheless a 1000m deep cave with a very active master cave. Too many cavers over-estimate their capabilities and take too lightly the difficulties they will encounter.
In recent years there have been 6 cavers killed in this cave (5 due to the water) and there is on average a rescue call-out each year.
For more on the Gouffre Berger, visit their website.
The Gouffre Berger was discovered in 1953. For the first time in the world, minus 1000 m was reached by Jo Berger and his group. The cave goes down to minus 1198 m. It is connected with the "Cuves de Sassenage", 1200 m lower as has been shown using dies.
For a long time, the gouffre Berger was the deepest in the world. It was overtaken by the Mirolda cave in the Criou massif of Haute-Savoie in 1992 with - 1436 m. In 1996, the deepest cave in the world became the Lamprechtsofen (Austria) with -1632 m. In 2001 the Voronja cave in Georgia (Abkhazia) won with - 1680 m. In 2003, the Mirolda regained the top (the bottom !) with - 1733m
Updated Jun 6, 2010
The Jardin Botanique Alpin du Lautaret (Alpine Botanic Garden) is at elevation 2100m and is 0.5 km away from the Lautaret pass, on the road to the Galibier pass. It was first created in 1899 by Pr Lachmann, closer to the Lautaret pass. It has later been rebuilt on 4 hectares and offers now 2500 plants from the Alps and from the main mountain massifs in the world. For each mountain, a plant bed has been created with an environment that recall the massif. Some parts are rocky slopes, other meadows with flowers, other bushes. Water is flowing everywhere in torrents and falls. Each year, 25,000 visitors discover this jewel in the middle of high mountains.
Open 9h-19h from mid June to mid September. Best period is July. Entrance 4 euros. Guided visit at 14h every week day.
For more on the Jardin botanique alpin%L, visit their web site. The web site Jardin Alpin du Lautaret gives also interesting information.
Written Apr 20, 2005
Route Napoléon is N85, a mountain road that links Grenoble to Gap and the Mediterranean and offers superb landscapes. As its name says, it was the route followed by Napoléon when he escaped from the isle of Elbe where he was imprisoned to recover his throne.
Driving from Grenoble, you pass first by Vizille, its castle and museum of the Revolution and then have to climb the famous "Côte de Vizille". It is the steepest main road in France. If you climb it, be sure that you car will not overheat. That happens to many! If you drive down, take extreme care, use the motor brake, drive slowly. Numerous road signs remind that. In the past, there has been several accidents involving busses, trucks or cars that have run brakeless. It is now strictely forbidden to busses and trucks.
On top, the small village of Laffrey (250 inh) and the 3 lacs de Laffrey (Laffrey lakes) : Grand Lac, Lac Mort and lac de Petichet. There are several beaches. Bathing and sailing brings every week end a lot of citizens from Grenoble. However, do not forget that the elevation is close to 1000m and the water is never very warm.
On the "Prairie du Retour" (Meadow of the way back) stands the statue of Napoleon. It is the place where he met with the army coming from Grenoble and which was supposed to arrest him and instead, backed him.
Written Apr 20, 2005
In the French Alps, 50 km south to Grenoble, 170 km both from Geneva and from Nice, along the Route des Alpes (N75/E712) the Mont Aiguille (Needle mount) stands as a separated part of the Vercors cliffs. The legend says that goddesses, chased from the Olympus seeked shelter but where surprised, naked by Ibicus. Jupiter, in anger changed the peeping Ibicus into an ibex and separated the mount from the remaining of the Vercors. In the Middle Age, Higher ans steeper mountains of central Alps were mostly unknown while it was its base was easily reached, which made it famous. At that time, it has often been drawn in a fantastic way. In 1490, on the occasion of a pilgrimage, King Charles VIII saw it and required Antoine de Ville, to climb it. He did it in June 1492 under the close watch of a bailiff that made an official report to the king. Antoine de Ville, a specialist of climbing strongholds, lead a group with two priests, an "escalleur du roi" ("laderrist" of the king), a carpenter, a church stone cutter and some locals. All these specialists were used to work in elevation and used the technics they practiced in their job : ladders, ropes and grapnels. They stayed several days on the summit meadow, built a small stone chapel, erected 3 crosses and gave several masses. It is considered as the first alpinism climbing.
On August 27th 1957, Henri Giraud, a master of mountain flying landed on top of the Mont Aiguille in a small plane, a Piper J 3. Altogether, between 1957 and 1975, he landed 53 times on the summit.
If you want to know more on the %Lmontaiguille.free.fr/Mont Aiguille, you can visit this website or the other one, also on the Mont Aiguille
Written Apr 20, 2005
The monastery of the Grande Chartreuse cannot be visited but you can visit the "Correrie" and the museum, 25 km from Voiron. For more on the Correrie, visit their web site.
You can also visit in Voiron the Distillerie de la Grande Chartreuse. Monks a re brewing the famous green (stronger) or yellow (sweeter) "Chartreuse" liquor, made with 130 different mountain plants following a secret formula.
For more on the Chartreuse Liquors and its visit, visit their web site
Written Apr 20, 2005
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