By Phil Hanlon
Located in the heart of the Alps and the Rhone Valley, the Isere department has something to offer everyone, from extreme sports enthusiasts to art and history buffs. In the winter, the area is well-known for its skiing resorts, while in the summer hiking and biking trails offer a great way to explore the countryside. Mountains, lakes and three national parks provide plenty of open space, even in the busy summer months, while the cities like Grenoble and Vienne provide historical and cultural attractions.
Napoleon Road and Grenoble
The Napoleon Road stretches from the south coast of France, all the way to Grenoble, following the route the Emperor himself took on returning from exile. In Isere, the route runs through areas of natural beauty and past a historic chateau, the Domaine de Vizille, which is also home to the Museum of the French Revolution. The Laffrey Lakes provide an ideal place to stop off for a picnic or a breath of fresh air on your drive to Grenoble, or if you want to stay for longer there are hiking trails, water sports and beaches to enjoy.
The city of Grenoble itself is the gateway to many of the top ski resorts in the area, but even in winter with the pistes calling is worth spending some time exploring. The historic, pedestrianised old town is home to a 13th century cathedral, a large number of museums on subjects as diverse as archaeology and automatons, and a market every weekday morning. The highlight is the Bastille fort, high above the city centre, which can be accessed on foot, by those who enjoy a challenge, or via a spectacular cable car ride.
The Walibi Rhone-Alpes theme park is open in the summer months and will keep the kids happy after being dragged round museums and up and down mountains for a few days! It offers everything, from water slides and wave pools to roller coasters and fun rides for younger children. Set in the beautiful Isere countryside, there is a mini-farm, live shows and plenty to entertain children and adults of all ages.
The liqueur Chartreuse has been made in Isere by Carthusian monks since the 18th century, to a secret recipe using over 130 different plants. The distillery can be visited in the town of Voiron and, of course, includes a tasting session! Nearby is the Chartreuse monastery itself is also worth a visit, though it is a difficult 30 minute walk from the car park to the remote 11th century building. Unfortunately, you can only visit the outer buildings to respect the privacy of the monks, but there is a museum, which details the history of the order and its architecture.
The Author, Phil Hanlon, writes for Holiday Home Rentals who have a selection of Gites in Isere and Villas in France which can be rented direct from their owners.
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