Download the leaflet Welcome to Rhône-Alpes in English (pdf - 416 Ko).
Holiday accommodation, activities, tours and other travel information in Rhône-Alpes : http://en.traveltrade.rhonealpes-tourisme.com
Human occupation of Rhône-Alpes began at an early stage, as can be seen in the rock paintings in the Palaeolithic sanctuary (32,000 years BC) of the Grotte Chauvet cave system, in Vallon-Pont-d'Arc (Ardèche). Traces of the Neolithic period (3,000 BC to 1,000 BC) are present more or less all over the region (Lake Paladru, Lake Le Bourget, etc.). The Celts, who arrived in the Rhone valley, Northern Dauphiné and the Alps around 650, left very few traces. From the Gallo-Roman period there is little more than a few remains, but what remains they are! For example, on Fourvière hill, the Roman Odeon and the great theatre represent a unique ensemble in France. The High Middle ages (from 500 to 1000) left few visible traces: the choir school in the Saint John Episcopal group in Lyon, the village of Charavines and the agricultural settlement of Larina (in Hières-sur-Amby).
From the middle ages to the French Revolution, noblemen and religious orders built more than 800 castles (chateaux), churches and monasteries. Among these are the Château des Allymes and its military architecture at Ambérieu-en-Bugey, Tour de Crest in Drôme, the highest castle keep in France, or the Castle of the Dukes of Savoy, which dominates the town of Chambéry. The whole region abounds with religious architectural heritage. Romanesque art is also present in Rhône-Alpes, with Saint-Martin-d'Ainay Basilica in Lyon or the abbey church of Cruas in Vivarais. For gothic enthusiasts, apart from the cathedrals of Vienne or Lyon, the Benedictine abbey of Ambronay (10th and 15th centuries) and the flamboyant church of Brou (16th century) bear witness to the variety of this style in Ain. Under the influence of Italy, the French Renaissance left its mark with the Maison des Chevaliers in Viviers, Château de la Rochelambert in Velay and, near Feurs, Château de la Bastie-d'Urfé.
The baroque period has marked the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys, with over 60 churches and chapels. The only large ensembles of classical art are to be found in Lyon. The quarter of Les Terreaux dates back to the 17th century, Place Bellecour to the 18th century, while the Fourvière basilica dates from the end of the 19th century. When it comes to the contemporary period (20th century), we should mention Sainte-Marie de la Tourette convent and the Firminy ensemble, which are both the work of Le Corbusier. Firminy is one of the most complete ensembles in the world (after Brasilia), and the Part-Dieu quarter of Lyon. And, rounding off the 20th century, the TGV station at Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport, which came into service in 1994, is a site where concrete, steel and glass come together to form the image of a bird with giant wings.